like thisBillions of Americans fed up with the epidemic are expected to head to airports and board flights next week so they can spend Thanksgiving with family and friends.
The message for Eduard Faktorovich’s loved ones is: Stay home.
Faktorovich, a successful former travel agent, was thrilled when he landed a job as a TSA agent at Denver International Airport two years ago, “because it was part of his passion,” his niece, Megan Faktorovich, told the Daily Beast.
Earlier this month, a TSA agent was diagnosed with Covid-19. His last day at work was November 2nd. By Monday he was dead.
As much as his 49-year-old uncle loved to travel, Faktrovich said, “We hope this can be a message to everyone to stay home for the holidays.”
He added, “I don’t think it’s safe for anyone to travel on time at the moment, especially as the holidays are approaching and there will be a huge increase in COVID cases.” “It’s just such a horrible thing, especially when it comes close to home. Many people realize that it is not too late. “
It was a message that many were trying to get out of the travel industry. About 3,000 TSA agents have contracted COVID since the epidemic began, and nine people have died. Union officials warned this summer that the TSA was struggling to keep all its airport staff safe. Now that the holiday season is approaching and with cases of Covid reaching historic highs across the country, many workers fear it will only get worse.
A record 31.6 million people flew on Thanksgiving Week last year. The AAA estimates that number will be cut in half this year, but it still allows millions of Americans to get on planes during the holiday season. In its first briefing since August Gust, the Centers for Disease Control warned against traveling for the holidays on Thursday, saying it was impossible to keep social distance in a crowded transportation hub.
“We understand that and people want to see their relatives and their friends the way they have always done,” CDC Covid-19 incident manager Henry Wakelke told reporters. “But this year, in particular, we are urging people to stay as safe as possible and to limit their travel.”
“At an individual household level, basically your loved ones are more likely to get sick and then be hospitalized and die.”
“Unless we’re safe, I don’t think passengers feel safe.”
– Dehradun airport worker Sarah Iziudoy
Los Angeles International Airport, the world’s third busiest airport, also took to the action on Wednesday by tweeting: “If you don’t want to travel for the holidays, don’t.”
A day earlier, workers at airports in seven different cities protested for safe working conditions to demand COVID-19 protection during the holiday season through car convoys, socially spacious rallies, marches and other protests. Their demands include more personal protective equipment, training on disease prevention, safe employee level and more.
“We have been on the front lines of this epidemic from the beginning. “We have lost our viruses and our escape co-workers,” said Denver International Airport wheelchair attendant Sarah Iziudoy in a statement. “Families want to spend the holidays together, but first they need to know that they can travel safely. Unless we’re safe, I don’t think passengers feel safe. “
“No matter how much care is taken by airlines and airports, increasing travel will put their employees at risk,” said Teresa Peralta at JFK International Airport’s Terminal Cleaner. He urged passengers to think about the airport staff, their children and their elderly relatives as they pass through the terminal.
“People may think that when they see us working we have good health insurance, that they will be taken care of when something bad happens, when it is not.” “I really want people to understand and understand the dangers they are putting themselves in every day.”
Peralta stopped short of telling people not to travel for the holidays, saying that without passengers, he would be fired. The 55-year-old was diagnosed with covid in March and had not been at work for six months. More than anything, he said, “What I emphasize is that people are careful when traveling.”
Scots Elmore, a spokesman for Airports Council International, said airports were “taking every step to protect the health and safety of traveling public and airport staff.” But he added that his group was also pushing for federal guidelines on the use of masks at airports, saying it would “help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and re-establish confidence in those who travel or are traveling to US airports.”
On Thursday, Megan and the rest of Faktorovich’s family went to her funeral. In a statement, TSA offered the family its “sincere condolences” and added that “the entire team at Dean is saddened by the loss.” (His colleagues, the agency added, “remember him as a kind and respectful person who always puts a smile on his face.”)
His niece said Faktorovich had joined the TSA to keep his employees safe. The action he took was encouraging, but he was disappointed by the lack of customer respect. In the end, he said, this could be his dedication to the same passengers who risked his life.
“She wanted to make sure everyone passing by was safe,” he said, “no matter what.”