LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- They keep us safe at the airport, but during the pandemic they are putting their own safety at risk. COVID-19 cases among TSA officers at McCarran International Airport have surged in the last month, TSA data suggests.
With 24 reported cases among TSA officers in just under a month, TSA agents have been catching COVID-19 at a higher rate in the last month, according to TSA data.
The report shows that 65 total TSA officers have tested positive since the pandemic began. Reno-Tahoe’s airport has had only eight, by comparison.
Still, a TSA spokesperson said they are taking all the precautions.
“They’re wearing a surgical mask or N95 mask. If they’re in a position where they have closer contact with a traveler, they’re gonna be wearing a face shield,” said Lorie Dankers, spokesperson for TSA.
She added, “Our employees, if they are not feeling well, — regardless of what it is — they are asked to stay home, no questions. And there is a special category of leave that we use for that.”
Dankers said there is something travelers can do to help, however: she’s asking they be mindful of restricted items, to avoid additional screenings.
“Not only do you not want to have a bag check, our officers don’t want to have to do bag checks, because that increases exposure,” said Dankers. “You’ll be able to social distance from our employees, they’ll be able to social distance from you, and you’ll be through and headed to your gate.”
One traveler we spoke to agrees that it’s best to think ahead.
“Well not me in particular, but one time we were traveling with a friend of ours, and he got stopped and ended up getting patted down and the whole nine yards,” said Karen Pryor, a McCarran traveler. “You stop the whole security line, and you have to go through all their bags, and it’s just easier if you don’t have to do that.”
That’s why Dankers said TSA created a mobile app.
“Please download the My TSA app. And what that does, is it gives you information on a couple of important things...” said Dankers. “A database of items that are prohibited in your carry on luggage — you can enter the name of the item, and it will tell you whether you can carry it on or check it.”
Information was not disclosed on whether any of the McCarran TSA officers’ COVID-19 cases are active, but the most recent employee tested positive on Tuesday, according to TSA data.