For about 11 years, Junior Rodriguez has worked with the Transportation Security Administration at Miami International Airport, but now he is worried.
“Miami International Airport is one of the 12 airports nationwide that has been approved to receive flights from the high-risk areas. We are exposed to people from all over the world,” Rodriguez explained.
The TSA employee tells NBC 6 that he lives with his 88-year-old grandmother and wants to feel more secure at work. He held up a surgical mask and a face shield to show what employees are provided with does not offer enough protection.
“According to most of the experts, these are not very efficient when it comes to dealing with the virus. These are the shields, in most cases, the officers sometimes leave in the car and they melt. Sometimes they break because of the sweat and this is the only thing we have to fight the outbreak,” Rodriguez said.
He says he also doesn’t see enough people social distancing or wearing masks.
“Even though it’s mandatory in Miami-Dade County, at the airport if you are a passenger or a crew member you come through without the mask, there is nothing we can do about it,” he said.
But TSA tells us this is not accurate and that they have ample supplies of PPE. They say they initiated a safety officer position due to the pandemic to ensure PPE, social distancing and cleaning were conducted.
In a statement, they said in part, “Masks were provided to officers in advance of the CDC or DOH recommending that masks be worn to slow the spread of the virus. The PPE requirements for the TSA workforce greatly reduces the likelihood that any officer would catch the virus while working in a TSA checkpoint. MIA also requires all passengers and other airport employees to wear the masks inside the airport.”
Still Rodriguez says more can be done.
“My worry is coming back from work with the virus,” he said.
Two of Rodriguez’s coworkers passed away after being infected. TSA confirmed the deaths of Victor Chung and Paul Muao.
TSA has had 1,128 federal employees test positive for COVID-19, according to its website. 690 employees have recovered, and six have died as a result of the virus.