A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official is accusing the government agency of not taking the necessary precautions to protect employees against the coronavirus outbreak.
According to The Associated Press, Kansas TSA representative Jay Brainard said airport screeners were not adequately trained on how to handle the pandemic and he even witnessed agency officials ordering management not to hand out stockpiled N95 respirator masks in March.
Brainard worked with the Office of Special Counsel to file a complaint, which the Department of Homeland Security is now investigating. TSA officials said the agency followed all guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“I have no doubt whatsoever that our people became Typhoid Marys and contributed to the spread of that virus because TSA senior leadership did not make sure (screeners) were adequately protected,” Brainard told The AP.
TSA officials said it was optional for employees to wear masks as travel restrictions were implemented in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak. The agency didn’t mandate facial coverings for officers at airport checkpoints until the first week of May.
The whistleblower said that even with recent changes implemented last week, there are still glaring issues. Brainard claims there is still “no procedure for how to handle travelers who appear to be sick and little or no contact-tracing after TSA personnel become sick.”
TSA Spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said officers are required to wear nitrile gloves and change them every time they screen a new passenger. She claims that while eye protection is optional, screeners sit behind plastic barriers installed at security checkpoints and other locations.
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