If you visit the Transportation Security Administration website, the first thing you’ll see is a TSA agent wearing a mask.
Scroll down and you’ll see passengers wearing masks.
You know why?
Because, as the TSA website mentions, “The Transportation Security Administration has implemented the Executive Order on face masks at airport security checkpoints and throughout the transportation network when indoors.”
Apparently “implemented” doesn’t mean exactly what it’s supposed to mean, at least not at the Myrtle Beach International Airport.
When a Sun News reporter visited the airport on multiple days, he found an abundance of maskless people - passengers and law enforcement officials among them - apparently all opting not to implement the TSA rule.
Our team has reported on the coronavirus’ highly-infectious delta variant and we have watched as COVID-19 cases have started to rise in South Carolina and across the country, particularly among the unvaccinated.
On separate trips to the bustling airport, our reporter spotted Horry County Police officers not wearing masks as well as maskless passengers standing throughout the airport’s security, baggage claim and check-in areas.
Not only are they flouting the TSA rule, but also The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mandate requiring masks on all forms of public transportation until Sept. 13. That includes everything from airplanes and trains to subways and trolleys.
In a joint statement, the Myrtle Beach airport and Horry County Police Department said, “Horry County Police Department is operating in accordance with the guidelines from the CDC.” But Horry County spokeswoman Kelly Moore did not explain why the CDC’s mask mandate was not being followed.
David McMahon, TSA’s federal security director for South Carolina, told The State he has noticed declining adherence to the mask mandate recently and has spoken to airport director Scott Van Moppes about the issue.
The mandates and guidelines exist for a reason - to keep you safe and healthy. It’s that simple.
According to the TSA, the number of people traveling is on the rise.
On July 21, 1.93 million people made their way through TSA checkpoints across the country, up from 570,951 on that same day one year ago. The pre-pandemic total for that day was 2.56 million.
Air travelers want to return to normal, but normal isn’t here yet.
The number of COVID-19 confirmed and probable deaths is now up to 9,870 and the number of South Carolina residents fully vaccinated is hovering at just under 44 percent.
We aren’t where we need to be and letting your guard and your masks down when you are mixing with people in enclosed spaces from across the country won’t help us get there.
That’s why the TSA, airport officials and law enforcement agencies need to do their part by enforcing their rules and operating under them.
It’s hard to tell passengers to wear masks when you’re not wearing one yourself.