Three Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners at a northern California airport have tested positive for the new coronavirus, officials said Tuesday.
The TSA officers work in security screening at Mineta San Jose International Airport. They are the first in the agency to test positive for the respiratory virus, NPR reported.
The officers are now being treated, TSA said in a statement, and an additional 40 airport employees were told not to come in.
“The officers are receiving medical care and all TSA employees they have come in contact with over the past 14 days are quarantined at home,” TSA said.
Prior to their diagnosis, the officers likely came in contact with thousands of airline passengers, the TSA union told NPR. Airline security at the airport is still going, though one of the checkpoints has closed.
“Screening checkpoints remain open and the agency is working with the CDC, as well as the California Department of Public Health and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department to monitor the situation as well as the health and safety of our employees and the traveling public,” the TSA statement reads.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske added in a tweet that “the health and safety of #TSAofficers remains my number one priority.”
However, TSA union officials questioned the government’s response to the San Jose cases, NPR reported. Several said that TSA has not taken sufficient steps to plan and prepare for an outbreak such as this, and requests for more effective face masks were rejected, according to Reuters.
“The agency to protect the American people isn’t funded enough to protect the American people,” Joe Shuker, a top TSA union official in Philadelphia, told NPR.
There are currently at least 1,088 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., and 31 people have died.
California has 178 confirmed cases, the third-most in the country. Santa Clara county, where San Jose is located, is particularly hard-hit, with 45 cases as of Tuesday and one death, in a woman in her 60s with chronic health conditions, The Mercury News reported.
The rise in cases led Santa Clara County officials to ban all gatherings larger than 1,000 people, and the NHL’s San Jose Sharks will likely play their upcoming home games without fans moving forward. San Jose State University has said they are moving to online classes for the rest of the semester.
Mineta San Jose International Airport will also likely see decreased passengers over the next few weeks. Airlines have said that bookings are dropping and many companies are waiving cancelation fees. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Italy, China, South Korea and Iran, and entry of foreign nationals from China and Iran into the U.S. is currently suspended.
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