TSA on masks for 4th of July travelers flying out of MKE: 'This is what the CDC recommends'

MILWAUKEE -- The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) new “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure.” campaign launched in advance of the Independence Day holiday weekend -- with reommended masks just one of the safety measures being taken at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport and others.

“Passengers should expect to see TSA officers wearing masks and changing gloves after each pat-down and using a fresh swab when checking for explosive material,” said Mark Lendvay, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Wisconsin, in a news release Wednesday, July 1. “Just as our TSA officers will be wearing masks, passengers should also be wearing face protection and following CDC guidance for hand washing and social distancing.”

Even though some flyers reported overbooked and crowded flights leading up to the Fourth of July, they said they felt safe enough to fly -- even to and from some of the COVID-19 hot spots.

"They just told me that there are possibly too many people on the plane, so I have to figure that out," said Edward Moore, traveling to Houston.

The TSA allows up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer per passenger, and masks are required. They're just some of the precautions being taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus -- especially among those traveling to and from high-risk areas.

"In Dallas, oh yeah, we spiked pretty bad," said Charlene Brown, traveling from Texas. "Southwest still has the middle seat unavailable, so I didn't have a problem flying on Southwest."

Some airlines have asked passengers to quarantine for 14 days if coming from high-risk states like Florida once they reach Milwaukee.

Elaine Chao

"98% of passengers these days will be flying on airplanes, airline companies that will require face coverings," said Elaine Chao, U.S. transportation secretary. "This is what CDC recommends."

Southwest accounts for roughly half of the flights at Mitchell Airport, according to officials. A rep shared that they're cleaning aircraft(s) before and after each flight, and only booking two-thirds of the flight to allow the middle seat to remain open. They're also having passengers acknowledge a health declaration before traveling.

Some passengers said they're taking their own precautions.

"I have wipes in my backpack," said Edward Moore, traveling to Houston. "I'm going to wipe down the seat. I have spray, spray it down. Don't take off the mask."

There are also plenty of safety precautions in the terminal at Mitchell Airport -- including a mask requirement. TSA agents will stop you if you don't.

TSA officers will be wearing masks and gloves at checkpoints. Passengers will also see plastic shields at areas of the checkpoint where TSA officers and passengers interact.

An overview of TSA procedural changes that travelers should expect are outlined below:

    For more information about TSA’s response to COVID-19 and other adjustments TSA has made at security screening checkpoints, you are urged to visit tsa.gov/coronavirus.