HOUSTON - The Novel Coronavirus is causing concern among employees who work at the airport. So Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee held a News Conference at Bush Intercontinental Airport to address workers who fear for their safety.
The virus, which started in China, has spread to other countries including the U.S. by people who are traveling. So airport workers who come into contact with travelers from across the globe say they want to make sure they are being protected.
"It is very frightening,” says Cynthia Sanders with the American Federation of Government Employees which represents 45,000 TSA workers. Airport and airline employees are asking for help to protect themselves. "TSA workers are on the front lines each and every day,” says Sanders.
"This isn’t theoretical for aviation workers. Coronavirus has entered our workplace and disrupted our jobs and our lives,” adds Ginny Stogner McDavid with the Association of Flight Attendants.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee will be asking the federal government to set up safety guidelines to be followed until the Coronavirus is contained. "I’ll be writing both the President and the Secretary of Homeland Security to begin this protocol because we do not have it".
Flight Attendant Stogner McDavid points to the airlines canceling flights in China, for instance. While American suspended service January 31, 2020, Delta and United followed days later. "Airlines have essentially self-regulated. Department of Transportation must issue consistent guidelines that apply equally to all carriers".
Passengers have mixed reactions. “I agree with this. We need to be careful in order to protect us as well,” says Juan Miranda who arrived from Colombia.
"I think everything is under control and people shouldn’t be worried as much as they are,” Ryan Smith says.
Ralph Evans came from El Salvador where he says workers were wearing masks but in the U.S. they are not. That concerns me a little bit”.
Sanders says TSA workers have been told to wear a mask if they want to, another issue workers want to be spelled out in a safety plan. "We hope the government hears us and that they provide more protections than ‘if you want to’. TSA agents have families too and want to be protected,” says Sanders.
The Congresswoman was joined by city and county health officials who want to remind Houstonians there are no cases of Novel Coronavirus in Houston or in Texas. They also say the best way to stop an epidemic such as this is to wash our hands, cover our coughs and stay home when we’re sick.