Amid airport hugs and reunions, COVID cases among TSA staffers rise

Josh Chapin Image
Friday, May 6, 2022
Families reunite at RDU as COVID cases among TSA staffers rise
COVID-19 infections among TSA staffers have reportedly gone up 50% since the mask mandate was thrown out two weeks ago.

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The embrace between Kristina Isaac and her father, Clifford, was long overdue.

They hugged, at the RDU Airport, for the first time in five years.

"I haven't seen my grandsons since they were babies," Clifford said. "I'm going to get emotional."

Kristina, who lives in Fuquay-Varina, has one son graduating from Greensboro College and another from UNC-Asheville this weekend.

"It's a great Mother's Day weekend for me," she said. "I get to see my dad and I also get to go to two graduations. Who can say that?"

Clifford flew from Los Angeles to RDU on the same day it was reported that COVID infections among TSA staff have gone up 50% since the mask mandate was thrown out two weeks ago.

This week, more than 540 workers had active infections. TSA did not say whether any of the infections came from staffers at RDU. They said they stopped posting the numbers of employees with infections because they are so low.

"If you are not a candidate for vaccination, which many children are obviously not, or if you have people in your family who are at risk, I think it makes sense to wear a mask," said Dr. Adia Ross, chief medical officer at Duke Regional Hospital.

Ross said your choice to mask in an airport should be based on your amount of risk.

The CDC this week recommended that masks be worn on all forms of public transportation even though the mandate was thrown out in mid-April.

"It's not just about me, it's about the people I'm around and I'm trying to protect them," Ross said.

A spokesperson said the TSA continues to follow the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force and guidance and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for mask-wearing and other public health measures. This includes monitoring COVID-19 infections among employees. Those who feel ill are instructed to stay home and report positive COVID-19 infections to their supervisors.

TSA employees who are not fully vaccinated or choose not to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status, and who also work onsite or interact in person with members of the public as part of their job duties must undergo regular screening testing, the spokesperson added.