The TSA built a stockpile of more than 1.3 million N95 masks as the coronavirus pandemic grew despite suggestions from the Department of Homeland Security that it give them to hospitals.
Pro Publica reported that a whistleblower has accused the agency of hoarding the masks in recent months despite the fact that hardly anyone has taken to the skies as the virus spreads. Many TSA employees were told to stay home, and those who remain on the job are largely using surgical masks, Pro Publica noted.
"We don't need them. People who are in an infectious environment need them. Nobody is flying," TSA attorney Charles Kielkopf told the website. "You don't take things for yourself. It's the wrong thing to do.
"We need to reserve medical masks for healthcare workers, not TSA workers who are behind an X-ray machine."
In his whistleblower complaint, Kielkopf said the TSA is posing a "substantial and specific danger to public health" by hoarding the masks.
The number of passengers taking to the skies has nearly evaporated during the pandemic as people opt to stay home and as business travel is halted.
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