While flights don’t seem to be significant causes of virus spread the same may not be true of other parts of the travel experience. 1812 TSA employees have tested positive for Covid-19. 92% of those are airport screeners. Miami has had 122 screeners test positive. New York JFK has had 112. And these numbers don’t include the most recent testing.
According to a former TSA federal security director it’s insane that the TSA continues with pat downs which he says are unnecessary.
Unfortunately, one glaringly unpleasant – and potentially unsafe — aspect of US air travel remains unchanged: the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) use of physical pat downs at security checkpoints.
…why on earth isn’t TSA doing everything it can to significantly reduce – if not eliminate – the use of physical pat downs?
Covid-positive TSA employees have searched and given pat downs to passengers, who then traveled around the country. TSA wants to require passengers to use biometrics and claims it’ll prevent document checkers from having to handle passenger IDs but that does nothing to protect passengers from touching the same screen as every other passenger and doesn’t eliminate pat downs which are prolonged direct contact between passenger and screener. (The Republican DHS reauthorization bill would require biometrics to use PreCheck by the end of 2023.)
For years the TSA believed there were no active threats against U.S. aviation and only disclosed that fact to a court accidentally. And even with pat downs TSA still misses most contraband passengers might bring through checkpoints.
The security director-turned-consultant who now pitches things for a living naturally wants to use Covid as an excuse to get TSA to buy even more technology as a replacement for pat downs. This is an agency, though, that publicizes that they are sanitizing bins once a month.
— Adam Heeger (@aheeger) September 20, 2020
It seems that as a first measure TSA should re-evaluate the criteria for who needs a pat down, and how frequently pat downs are used. They aren’t doing anything to protect air travel, so should at a minimum be limited.