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Over the course of the pandemic, I’ve written several times about the daily number of passengers transiting domestically though TSA check points and compared the numbers to the daily amount of passengers from the previous year (2019).
I’ve also written about safety measures airlines are taking to ensure the safety of passengers, but are we focusing the safety efforts in the wrong place?
TSA INFECTIONS CONTINUE TO INCREASE
Generally, airports follow local requirements about wearing masks and the TSA encourages wearing a mask throughout your entire travel experience but does not require them while going through the checkpoint.
While airlines continue to market the “we’ve blocked middle seats” and “we actually clean the plane” safety messages, passengers may have been exposed long before getting on the plane.
In mid-April we saw the number of daily passengers passing through TSA check points bottom out at ~88,000 passengers in a single day.
At the moment, the daily volume of traveling passengers is consistently about 700,000 passengers (or 1/3 of what it was a year ago), however, we have seen a steady increase of traveling passengers week after week despite increasing COVID cases throughout the United States.
Despite this, even if you choose to wear a mask, the TSA may ask you to adjust or even remove it for identification which brings us to an interesting fork in the road.
In addition to the number of daily passengers passing through the TSA checkpoints, the TSA also keeps a tally of TSA employees that have confirmed cases on their website. Simply, click on the link and scroll to the bottom.
THE REAL NUMBERS
The TSA reports they have seen nearly 2,000 COVID-19 infected employees, saying:
TSA has 239 employees with active COVID-19 infections. Those individuals are staying home to help keep the traveling public safe. Since the beginning of the pandemic, TSA has cumulatively had 1,995 federal employees test positive for COVID-19. 1,780 employees have recovered, and 7 have unfortunately died as a result of the virus. We have also been notified that one screening contractor has passed away due to the virus.
Taking a quick glance at the numbers, there appears to be a direct correlation between the number of TSA workers and the general public. For example, airports in Georgia, Florida, Texas and the greater New York area have seen the largest number of cases.
In the next paragraph, the TSA says something that I find surprising:
TSA is committed to notifying the public about airport locations where TSA employees or screening contractors have tested positive for COVID-19. The chart below lists airports with confirmed COVID-19 cases and the last date worked for the most recent screening employee who tested positive. It does not include non-airport TSA employees or contractors who have limited or no interaction with the public. Passengers who believe they may have come in contact with an infected individual within the past 14 days should follow the CDC’s recommendations for travel-associated exposure.
Have they notified you? Have they notified anyone that you know of? In fact, have you seen or heard these numbers anywhere else besides this post?
And why the TSA not include contractors that have “limited interaction” with the public?
The TSA reports they have seen nearly 2,000 COVID-19 infected employees and although airlines are continuing to market safety messages to increase confidence, the number of passengers to increase.
Personally, I find these numbers fascinating particularly because cases of COVID-19 are still increasing daily. Which makes again ask, how are you determining when it’s the right time to travel?
Are you surprised by these numbers? Do you feel it’s “safe” to travel? Have you flown recently or plan to fly again soon?