As people were trickling into Philadelphia International Airport on Monday morning, a senior agent at the Transportation Security Administration, LaShanda Palmer, aged 45, was standing along with 40 other colleagues who were preparing to review documents, inspect baggage, and pat down travelers while fighting with miserable anxiety until before the Biden Government’s orders. The gnawing anxiety was over how close she was to a threat that could not be felt or seen.
Frontline Workers And How They Were Fighting With Covid-19
Greater than 6,000 employees of the Transportation Security Administration or T.S.A. have tested positive with Covid-19, and more than 14 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic as per a data recorded by the federal agency. Due to the lax in the T.S.A safety measures, frontline agents need to face a situation of a hidden pandemic.
When Americans are asked to keep their contacts limited with other people and maintain a minimum of six feet distance with the people they encounter, the T.S.A. agents used to screen hundreds of people, if not thousands, and are often in close proximity to colleagues and travelers. Further, they have to clean the surface of the terminal regularly after shifts.
The agents were required to wear gloves, face shields, and masks, but there were no rules for travelers until recently. When the Biden government came into force, they mandated people to wear masks on planes, at airports, and in all federal properties. Until December, there was no regulation on masks for air travelers in the United States. Instead, all airports had their own rules and regulations that varied a lot, and no proper care was taken.
The personnel were not provided any P.P.E. or personal protective equipment, which included face shields and masks. They were also required to work at overcrowded checkpoints. At those places practicing social distancing measures was impossible. Even if it was made available, they were asked to wear the equipment only at those places where they needed it.
A 37-year-old T.S.A. agent, Del Valle, at Newark Airport said that they had heard about the virus in March and knew it was there, but they continued their business as usual without wearing any masks or P.P.E. kit, or they were not taking any precautions. Unfortunately, Del contracted the deadly virus in mid-March due to the careless nature of the authorities.
According to her role as the airport acting supervisor, the lady sat in the luggage room at the Newark Airport. She said the place where she was sitting were a bunch of T.S.A. agents, moving in and out of place throughout the day a week before she constructed the virus.
After a few weeks of the pandemic, Ms. Palmer, who was a Philadelphia agent, had developed symptoms including shortness of breath, cough, high fever, and severe back pain that led her to visit the doctor only to know that she has contracted the virus.
As many people were dying at that time in the hospitals, Ms. Palmer was scared and refused to go to the hospital. But later on, her symptoms worsened, leading to her getting admitted to the hospital. Fortunately, she has recovered and is doing well. The lady was one of the 120 employees who got sick at the Philadelphia airport, and the most recent case at T.S.A. was diagnosed on January 27.
So, recently after the Biden government took measures to curb the virus with masks and P.P.E. kits, the T.S.A. security measures have also been increased by the airport authorities.