The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is preparing for a steady rise in passenger traffic numbers as the typically busy summer travel period approaches.
According to The Washington Post, TSA Administrator Darby LaJoye spoke to Congress Wednesday about how the agency is looking to hire more officers and implementing new technology to improve the screening process to meet the growing number of Americans traveling.
Thanks to a rising number of vaccinated people and travel restrictions being lifted, over 1.6 million people were screened at airport checkpoints by TSA agents on Sunday, May 2, the highest number of passengers since March 12, 2020.
The TSA has now screened at least one million people per day since March 11. To meet the increased demand, LaJoye said the agency has hired 2,500 officers since January and plans to add another 1,600 over the next eight weeks.
“Like all of us, TSA faced tremendous challenges over the past year with the ongoing global pandemic,” LaJoye said. “Air travel came to a near-standstill, and operational agility and the resilience of our workforce and the strength of our partnerships was tested like never before.”
While the number of passengers being screened has grown, the TSA took advantage of the lower travel numbers by installing more than 1,000 credential authentication machines at 121 locations and about 300 devices designed to eliminate the need for travelers to remove electronics, liquids and other items from bags.
LaJoye also said the TSA has worked to protect travelers and employees by using the guidance of federal health officials and technology to reduce interactions, but revealed 16 staff members have died of COVID-19 infections.
In addition, the administrator said 60 percent of TSA employees have received their first shot and 40 percent are fully vaccinated.
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