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Orlando TSA Worker Who Tested Positive for Coronavirus Talks Symptoms, Testing, and TSA's Response

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security seal is seen as a TSA official moves a bin for additional screening at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Transportation Security officer Andrea Silas was the first worker at Orlando International Airport to test positive for coronavirus. After her diagnosis, she was put on self-isolation and will return to work after a doctor clears her.

Officers who worked alongside her at the security checkpoint were put on administrative leave as they self-isolate for fourteen days.

Silas is not the first TSA worker in the country who has gotten coronavirus.

So far, five other screeners have tested positive for the virus: four at San Jose International Airport in California and one at Hollywood International Airport in Ft. Lauderdale.

WMFE spoke with Silas about whether she thinks the TSA and the airport is doing enough to protect workers during the pandemic. 

Read excerpts from our conversation:

How do you think you got sick? 

I'm guessing some passenger at the airport — I don't know 100 percent. But I don't really have a life. So that's pretty much all I could get it from.

What were some of your symptoms? 

It was like a headache, brain fog, feeling like dizzy and weird. Sore throat, cough. I was really cold. No matter how hot it was anywhere I was really cold. My nose was going between stuffy and runny.

Why did you get tested?

I didn't actually expect it to come out positive. But I figured it's a risk because of all the people. So, I went to the hospital and I told them at first. They asked me if I'd been out of the country in fourteen days. And I was like I come in contact with all the people from all the countries of concern every day and they didn't quite grasp it until I like put it bluntly for them. And then they were like, "Oh, ok, we'll test you."

Do you think the TSA and the airport is doing enough to protect workers? 

I probably got it there. So obviously I don't think that people are understanding that it is a risk. So, I guess not. But I don't think it's maliciously not doing it. I think it's just nobody's been grasping the risk.

What would you like listeners to know about the coronavirus? 

I probably wouldn't feel quite as bad as I do if I didn't have that plus strep together. So, it's the two combined that makes me feel as bad as I do. I think it's not as bad as everybody thinks it is unless you're old or sick.

For updated information on cases of coronavirus in TSA workers, click on the link.

If you'd like to listen to the full conversation, click on the clip above.


Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.