By Jacqueline Quynh

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami International Airport is in the lead for the highest number of COVID cases among TSA workers, beating other large hubs like JFK in New York and Los Angeles.

The Transportation Security Administration began tracking COVID cases in March 2020.  The current data shows 515 people have gotten sick at MIA.  Of those, 492 where TSA Screening Officers.

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Miami isn’t the only airport with high numbers, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando are in the top five.

CBS4 asked the TSA what the reason behind this was.  A TSA spokesperson explained in writing, “The numbers among our officers have from the beginning of the pandemic tended to track the spread in the communities in which we live.”

It also mentioned that both Miami and Fort Lauderdale had some of the newest technology to reduce touchpoints and mitigate the spread of disease.  With that said, Florida has been among the top three states with COVID cases for the past few months.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hany Attallah at Jackson Memorial Hospital said it’s good that the TSA keeps track, but it doesn’t tell the whole picture.

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“We need to take a really close look at whether these people are vaccinated, the vaccines have been shown to be preventative, vaccine uptake has not been shown to be as great in Florida as other parts of the country,” he said.

Dr. Attallah also acknowledged that the TSA has put in a number of helpful measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, but there’s always an inherent risk with travel.

“They tend to be busier airports with more staff, I think it would be interesting to look at the percentage rather than just the raw numbers of people who work for TSA who getting infected but those are all things that undoubtedly contribute to this as well,” he explained.

The TSA also told CBS4 that travelers should not be more concerned than they have been since the pandemic has started. It wants to remind everyone to take precautions, wear masks and limit as many touchpoints as possible.

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Since the pandemic began, two MIA TSA employees have died. Both deaths happened in 2020.

Jacqueline Quynh