Is TSA Security the Weakest Link In Traveler Safety During Coronavirus?

by Miles Jackson

Since writing the original article, a third TSA agent has fallen victim to COVID-19.  On Monday the TSA released a statement acknowledging that a Miami TSA Supervisor died. On April 9th, the TSA announced that Alberto Camacho, a branch manager for the federal agency’s Acquisition Program Management office, died on April 3.

TSA Maintains Updated Map of Infected Agents and Airports

You used to be able to go the TSA’s website and pull up their TSA agents with confirmed cases map which had been regularly updated . The map displayed affected airports where TSA agents have been confirmed as having been infected with the COVID-19. That map is no longer displayed.

Here’s what the map used to look like:

TSA Map from April 9, 2020 (No Longer Maintained by the Agency)

TSA Security Safety Coronavirus Agents Airports Affected Coronavirus COVID-19

Click to Enlarge Map

Now, the TSA maintains an information page of the COVID19 impact to travel and the agency.

TSA Employees and Screening Contractors COVID-19

AirportTotal Confirmed CasesTSA Screening OfficersNon-Screening EmployeesLast Work Date*
ALW - Walla Walla Regional11March 24, 2020
ATL - Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International12111March 18, 2020
AVP - Wilkes Barre Scranton International22March 18, 2020
BDL - Bradley International11April 13, 2020
BNA - Nashville International99March 24, 2020
BOI - Boise Air Terminal44March 29, 2020
BOS - Logan International1616April 12, 2020
BUF - Buffalo Niagara International11March 14, 2020
BWI - Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall422March 12, 2020
CLE - Cleveland-Hopkins International44March 20, 2020
DCA - Ronald Reagan Washington National33March 28, 2020
DEN - Denver International17161April 8, 2020
DFW - Dallas/Fort Worth International1192April 11, 2020
DTW - Detroit Metro Wayne County55March 25, 2020
EWR - Newark Liberty International48408April 12, 2020
FLL - Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International1414April 1, 2020
GEG - Spokane International11April 1, 2020
GRI - Central Nebraska Regional11April 12, 2020
GSP - Greenville-Spartanburg International11March 31, 2020
HNL - Daniel K. Inouye International Airport211March 12, 2020
IAD - Washington Dulles International541April 16, 2020
IAH - George Bush Intercontinental651April 5, 2020
IND - Indianapolis International541April 7, 2020
IPL - Imperial County11March 26, 2020
ISP - Long Island MacArthur33March 25, 2020
JAC - Jackson Hole Airport33March 25, 2020
JAX - Jacksonville International11March 27, 2020
JFK - John F. Kennedy International95887April 14, 2020
LAS - McCarran International/Las Vegas22March 19, 2020
LAX - Los Angeles International1010April 6, 2020
LGA - LaGuardia28253April 16, 2020
MCO - Orlando International1414April 5, 2020
MDW - Chicago Midway International11April 2, 2020
MIA - Miami International18162April 20, 2020
MSO - Missoula International11March 24, 2020
MSY - Louis Armstrong New Orleans International27261April 13, 2020
MTJ - Montrose Regional11March 16, 2020
ONT - Ontario International11March 27, 2020
ORD - Chicago O'Hare International11101April 4, 2020
ORF - Norfolk International22April 5, 2020
PAE - Snohomish County Airport-Paine Field22April 1, 2020
PHL - Philadelphia International66April 10, 2020
PHX - Phoenix Sky Harbor International11
PVD - Theodore Francis Green State11March 19, 2020
RSW - Southwest Florida International33April 13, 2020
SAN - San Diego International321April 2, 2020
SFB - Orlando Sanford International Airport11April 6, 2020
SDF - Louisville International-Standiford Field11March 24, 2020
SEA - Seattle/Tacoma International66April 16, 2020
SFO - San Francisco International Airport22March 27, 2020
SJC - Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International55March 11, 2020
SJU - Luis Munoz Marin International11March 25, 2020
SLC - Salt Lake City International11March 24, 2020
SNA - John Wayne Airport-Orange County11March 23, 2020
SRQ - Sarasota Bradenton International Airport22April 9, 2020
STT - Cyril E King11March 13, 2020
TOL - Toledo Express22April 6, 2020
TPA - Tampa International211April 8, 2020
The chart includes TSA employees and screening contractors who may have had direct interaction with the public at an airport location.

*Last Work Date is date of most recent screening officer confirmed case

According to the TSA’s latest release of COVID-19 related statistics:

The TSA no longer provides individual data for infections, so we can no longer see exactly how many cases have been confirmed (or where) in the past 14 days.

Some Disturbing Data

Unfortunately, these are the top five airports that have reported the most cases

JFK – John F. Kennedy International                                         95

EWR – Newark Liberty International                                        48

LGA – LaGuardia                                                                              28

MSY – Louis Armstrong New Orleans International            27

MIA – Miami International                                                            18

That’s a huge jump from just what was reported a few days ago! When I penned the original article, on April 9th, here were the top three airports with reported cases in the previous 14 days:

New York City’s JFK Airport (JFK) – 10 Confirmed Cases
Denver International Airport (DEN) – 6 Confirmed Cases
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International (MSY) – 5 Confirmed Cases

RELATED POST: These airports fit into the latest Coronavirus Hotspots list.

The Latest HotSpot Airports

Here are the most recent airports with TSA Agents reporting confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past 14 days:

MIA – Miami International
LGA – LaGuardia
SEA – Seattle/Tacoma International
IAD – Washington Dulles International
JFK – John F. Kennedy International
MSY – Louis Armstrong New Orleans International
RSW – Southwest Florida International
BDL – Bradley International
EWR – Newark Liberty International
BOS – Logan International
GRI – Central Nebraska Regional
DFW – Dallas/Fort Worth International
PHL – Philadelphia International
SRQ – Sarasota Bradenton International Airport
DEN – Denver International
TPA – Tampa International
IND – Indianapolis International

Are the TSA Security Lines A Traveler’s Weakest Link for Coronavirus Safety?

Although the numbers of passengers passing through airports are down dramatically, everyone has to pass through some form of a TSA security checkpoint. More passengers pass by a TSA checkpoint in a single day than probably come in contact with a flight attendant. We know there are hundreds of flight attendants, and even pilots, who have been confirmed as having the coronavirus.

Should we be concerned? I think this goes to our biggest fear of the current pandemic, we simply cannot see the disease. That’s why air travel at this point is ill-advised.

Of course, any infected agent could pass the virus on to any number of persons traveling to any number of destinations after leaving the checkpoint. That’s a design for disaster.

Will Domestic Air Travel Be Shutdown?

With the airlines now lining up for bailouts, the prospect of grounded domestic air travel fades away with each passing day. The airlines will have to keep flights and maintain some levels of staffing to receive government funds from the CARES Act. This signals that they will continue to operate, even if at some dramatically lower levels than a month ago.

We know that airports have been shutdown at times to deal with an infected staff member or air traffic controller.

The Upshot

Passengers need to be screened. There’s no way to avoid that right now.  Travelers have many points of contact where they could contract the COVID-19 virus. The TSA security checkpoint line stands out as a single point where so many passengers interact.  In the post-coronavirus future, perhaps there are less touchpoints.  See – Biometric Screening Technology: Touchless Check-In, Security, and Boarding

What’s your take on the TSA as the potential weakest link due to the Coronavirus?
Click here for all the latest coronavirus updates and policies by airline as well as hotel, travel insurance, stimulus payment, plus our own expert advice posts.

Stay safe and help #StopTheSpread

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