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Tag: Airports

Number of TSA Screeners Who Tested Positive for Coronavirus Reaches 8

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The number of TSA screeners who have tested positive for the coronavirus has increased to eight, the agency has confirmed.

An undisclosed number of screeners who came into contact with their infected coworkers will be quarantined for 14 days, the TSA said.

The screeners were working in airports in Ohio, California, Georgia, and Florida.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents nearly 50,000 TSA officers nationwide, is calling on more protections for the screeners.

“I think that it is important that the American public understand what these TSOs are facing right now,” Everett Kelley, AFGE’s national president, tells ABC News. “They are afraid. No one knows or understands the extent of this virus so everyone is a little shaken by it.”

 

Sixth TSA Screener Tests Positive for Coronavirus at U.S. Airports

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A TSA screener at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida is the sixth employee of the agency to be tested positive for the coronavirus.

The screener “is receiving medical care and all TSA employees they have come in contact with over the past 14 days are self-isolated at home,” a TSA spokesperson said in a statement Sunday, The Sun-Sentinel reports. “Screening checkpoints remain open and the agency is working with the CDC, as well as the Florida Department of Health, Broward County office to monitor the situation as well as the health and safety of our employees and the traveling public.”

On Saturday, the TSA said one of its agents also contracted the virus at Orlando International Airport.

Four screeners have tested positive for the coronavirus at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in California, the TSA announced on a web page dedicated to the virus.

The union representing TSA screeners is asking for more guidance for its members to avoid the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Congressional Democrats questioned the top TSA official about what the agency is doing to protect workers and the public from the quickly spreading coronavirus.

House Democrats Question Top TSA Official about Measures to Protect Workers, Passengers

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Congressional Democrats questioned the top TSA official Wednesday about what the agency is doing to protect workers and the public from the quickly spreading coronavirus.

On Tuesday, three screeners at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in Northern California tested positive for the coronavirus.

Fielding questions at a Homeland Security subcommittee hearing, TSA Administrator David Pekoske told lawmakers that TSA agents regularly clean checkpoints and are allowing passengers to carry on large quantities of sanitizers.

“It’s going to require a little bit more screening on our part because we have to verify that that is, in fact, hand sanitizer in the bottle, but we do want to increase that volume to make it easier for passengers, particularly those that don’t check bags, to bring a volume of sanitizer with them,” Pekoske said, The Hill reports. “Because, as you know, you can go to another city and find none available on the shelves.”

Lawmakers asked Pekoske to ensure the TSA checkpoints are clean.

“Coronavirus is just one of many others to come, so we need to make sure that your workforce is prepared to address these health issues, as well as terrorist issues that are coming at us,” Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., said.

Trump’s Administration Imposes Temporary Ban on TSA Hiring and OT After Budget Cuts

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s administration has imposed a temporary ban on hiring at the TSA for the second time in recent months.

The moratorium on TSA hires is expected to be lifted in late April in time for the busy travel season this summer, KUER Radio in Utah reports.

The administration also placed a temporary hold on overtime.

“In anticipation of another record-breaking summer travel season, the Transportation Security Administration is managing resources by prioritizing overtime to the busiest of travel periods,” the TSA said in a statement. “Additionally, TSA will continue to assess applicants for entry into TSA, and will conduct two extended hiring windows to coincide with the busy summer travel season.”

The Trump administration reduced the agency’s $8.2 billion budget by $10.5 million in 2021.

Hydrick Thomas, who heads the union that represents TSA employees, said the hiring and overtime freeze is going to cause a headache.

“You always have overtime — no matter how much staff you hire. This agency has large turnover every month,” he said. “What are you going to do when you have no staff to process passengers?”

2019 Was Record Year for Guns Confiscated at Airports by TSA

Guns seized at US airports, via TSA

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The TSA seized more firearms at airports in 2019 than any year in its 18-year-history.

TSA officers discovered 4,432 guns in carry-on and checked bags at checkpoints nationwide, a 5% increase over 2018, the TSA announced in a news release.

“The continued increase in the number of firearms that travelers bring to airport checkpoints is deeply troubling,” David Pekoske, the TSA’s administrator, said.

“There is a proper way to travel safely with a firearm. First and foremost, it should be unloaded. Then it should be packed in a hard-sided locked case, taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared, and checked.”

Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) ranked first among the nation’s airports with 323 firearms confiscated. DFW International Airport came in second with 217 guns confiscated. Denver International Airport (DEN), George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) rounded off the top five.

All travelers, apart from law enforcement, are barred from bringing guns in airplanes, though firearms may be stored in checked luggage if all local, state and federal gun laws are followed.

You Won’t Believe the Bizarre Banned Items Confiscated at Airports in 2019

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The TSA confiscated tens of thousands of banned items at security checkpoints in 2019.

Some of the items were dangerous, and others were just strange. They ranged from slingshots and fireworks to a gun-shaped toilet paper roller, according to a compilation by The Washington Examiner.

Here is a sample of what TSA officers found:

 

Amid Fierce Criticism, Homeland Security Abandons Plans to Photograph American Travelers at Airports

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Facing a firestorm of criticism, Homeland Security is abandoning plans to expand the federal government’s facial recognition system by requiring all travelers, including Americans, to be photographed if they are leaving or entering the country.

Homeland Security was expected to propose the regulation change in July, igniting privacy concerns and trepidation about the accuracy of facial recognition technology.

Homeland Security officials responded by saying it no longer plans to move forward with the plan.

“There are no current plans to require U.S. citizens to provide photographs upon entry and exit from the United States. CBP intends to have the planned regulatory action regarding U.S. citizens removed from the unified agenda next time it is published,” the agency said in a news release.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who was among the toughest critics, had pledged to introduce legislation to stop the proposal.

Facial recognition technology has come under intense criticism from local, state and federal lawmakers because of its lack of accuracy, especially when applied to people of color.

Homeland Security Wants to Photograph Americans at Airports for Expanded Facial Recognition System

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities are mulling a plan to expand the U.S. government’s facial recognition system by requiring all travelers, including Americans, to be photographed as they are departing or entering the country.

Homeland Security is expected to officially propose the new requirements in July, the Associated Press reports.

The proposal comes as several airlines are testing facial recognition technology at U.S. airports.

The plan has already come under criticism by federal lawmakers, including Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who pledged to introduce legislation to stop the proposal.

Facial recognition technology has come under intense criticism from local, state and federal lawmakers because of its lack of accuracy, especially when applied to people of color.

“This new notice suggests that the government is reneging on what was already an insufficient promise,” Jay Stanley, a policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “Travelers, including U.S. citizens, should not have to submit to invasive biometric scans simply as a condition of exercising their constitutional right to travel.”