Shaking my head about this. Seems proper preventive protocol should be followed with such an unknown factor.
"Homeland Security: No Orders to Border, Airport Agents Forbidding Surgical Masks
A homeland security spokeswoman said border agents and airport workers have not been told they cannot cover their faces to protect themselves from swine flu.
FOXNews.com Thursday, April 30, 2009
"The Department of Homeland Security said Thursday it has not told agents at U.S. airports and border checkpoints that they cannot wear masks to protect from exposure to swine flu.
"The Department of Homeland Security has not issued an order saying our employees cannot wear masks. The health of our employees is of utmost importance to us. And today we are issuing department-wide guidance to our workforce," DHS spokeswoman Sara Kuban told FOX News.
Kuban was responding to a claim made Thursday that The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security issued a guideline banning masks because they look too intimidating.
Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., told FOX News that it's absurd to say border agents and airport workers don't need protections.when President Obama and other agencies are suggesting Americans take precautions to protect themselves from others.
"For somebody sitting in D.C., who won't even allow their family to fly, and then to sit there and say, donâ€TMt put on the masks until you know someone is sick is absolutely absurd. And it shows that Washington doesnâ€TMt understand the procedures or the conditions along the border," Bilbray said. "Washington ought to wake up."
While Kuban said no one has been ordered not to wear masks, a different administration official said earlier that agents at the U.S. border and at airports have been told not to wear surgical masks until they are needed.
The official said the "science indicates" no need for the masks at this time.
"Masks should be used in high-risk situations, such as when an employee comes into contact with a person or traveler who appears to be ill," the official said..
"If an employee at (an airport) or (on the border) comes into contact with someone who appears to be ill, it is strongly recommended and encouraged that both of them put on masks and gloves immediately," the official continued, adding that "the safety of employees is of the utmost importance."
Asked why an agent shouldn't be allowed to wear a mask if it makes him or her more comfortable and doesn't affect performance, the official said only that "science indicates" masks are not needed now.
FOX News' Mike Levine and Erin Vogel contributed to this report."