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Orlando International Airport Workers Continue to Get Sick, But TSA Won't Give them N-95 Masks or Testing

Photo: Avel Chuklanov @chuklanov
Photo: Avel Chuklanov @chuklanov

Orlando International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York have the highest number of coronavirus cases among TSA officers. Five TSA workers in Orlando have tested positive so far. 

Union leaders want the agency to provide more protective gear and test more officers. 

Deborah Hanna, president of the union representing TSA officers at Orlando International Airport, says they are not being provided with N-95 respirator masks. 

“So, we’re getting you know the cheap surgical masks which don’t help you unless you’re sick already.”

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David Mollett represents the American Federation of Government Employees.

He says once a worker gets sick it can be hard for their coworkers to know their status because of limited testing.

“The other officers and other people around them are not necessarily being tested, especially if they’re asymptomatic.”

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A spokesperson for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority said the airport continues to be deep-cleaned and workers should practice good hygiene and clean frequently used surfaces. 

But Hanna says that's not enough. Put simply:

"They either give us the N-95s or they shut us down."

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Hanna says she also wants workers to get more paid leave time if they have a family member with an underlying medical condition. 

She says people with elderly parents or sick kids or a who have diabetes or a heart problem themselves are allowed to take fourteen days off using their sick days.

But if they don't have any time left, those two weeks are unpaid.

As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 25 TSA screeners at airports across the country have become ill.
If you'd like to listen to the story, click on the clips above.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.
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