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TSA Employees Under Siege by COVID-19 And Unruly Passengers

By Steve Neavling

The coronavirus pandemic has been tough on TSA employees. 

More than 11,140 TSA screening officers and other workers have tested positive for COVID-19 – more than any other federal agency – and 32 have died, according to the agency.

But the virus isn’t the only threat. 

Unruly passengers, many of them angry about mask mandates, have hit record levels. 

“The level of unruly behavior is much higher than I have ever seen it,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in an interview Wednesday with TODAY. “I will do everything I can, and I know my FAA colleagues will do everything they can, as well as our airline partners, to bring this number down.”

So far this year, the Federal Aviation Administration has investigated 973 cases involving unruly passengers, a significant increase from 183 investigations last year. 

Authorities are doubly concerned because the holiday season means far more travelers and stress. 

“I am very concerned about it, I know the FAA is very concerned about it, the carriers are concerned about it. And it’s something that we are doing our level best to address,” Pekoske said. “We’ve increased fines for unruly behavior, we are criminally prosecuting some cases, the FAA through the FBI.


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