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Three TSA Agents at San Jose Airport (SJC) Test Positive for COVID-19 Hours Before Request for Better Quality Masks is Rejected

Three TSA Agents at San Jose Airport (SJC) Test Positive for COVID-19 Hours Before Request for Better Quality Masks is Rejected

Photo Credit: Delta Air Lines

Three agents working for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) in California have tested positive for COVID-19 a spokesperson for the agency confirmed late on Tuesday evening. The airport security screeners are the first employees for the nationwide federal agency to have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus according to a union official.

“The officers are receiving medical care and all TSA employees they have come in contact with over the past 14 days are quarantined at home,” the spokesperson told NPR.

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Photo Credit: TSA

“Screening checkpoints remain open and the agency is working with the CDC, as well as the California Department of Public Health and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department to monitor the situation as well as the health and safety of our employees and the traveling public.”

Santa Clara County in northern California was home to one of the first ‘community spread’ cases of COVID-19 in the United States. The County borders Silicon Valley, home to tech giants like Google, Facebook and Apple. Many bluechip companies in the area have ordered their employees to work from home wherever possible because of the threat of Coronavirus.

Employees have also been banned from international business travel and urged to reconsider domestic travel as cases of COVID-19 quickly develop across the United States.

James Mudrock, the local union president said that around 40 workers had been told not to return to work. It’s unclear whether they will be expected to self-quarantine for 14-days or will be allowed to return to work after being tested for COVID-19.

AFGE TSA Council 100, the union that represents around 40,000 TSA airport screeners nationwide, wrote to TSA Administrator David Pekoske on Tuesday morning asking for better face masks to help protect workers according to Reuters.

TSA agents are already permitted to wear surgical masks but the union had asked for N95 masks that offer a better level of protection.

The request was rejected by Pekoske who said the agency should continue following official guidance from the CDC. Health officials maintain that face masks are ineffective outside of a clinical setting and offer little protection to someone who is otherwise well.

Mineta San Jose airport served 15.7 million passengers in 2019 and has been named North America’s fastest-growing major airport over the last four years. A spokesperson said that operations continued as normal and that the airport would follow the advice of local and national health authorities.

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