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Airport management shrugs over enforcing COVID rules

Over the past six years, I’ve flown in and out of the Medford airport more than 100 times and have always had a pleasant and safe experience.

However, on my recent trips in July, I observed the federal COVID-19 airport masking requirements were not being enforced. So, I asked to speak with Jerry Brienza, airport director.

He came out of his office, unmasked. The employee who greeted me was masked. Jerry’s response to my inquiry was that signs requiring masking were posted and he was not concerned about additional enforcement. I offered him other ways to enforce the federal guidelines and he was not open to my ideas.

Then, I spoke with the TSA supervisor on duty and his attitude was also disappointing. Finally, I spoke with one of the airport security personnel and ran into the same negative attitude about enforcing the federal mask mandate.

The Medford airport management must have a short memory. They seem to have forgotten the time — not very long ago — when the pandemic decimated the travel industry. The Medford airport was empty and struggling financially — so much so, that they accepted federal funds to stay afloat and pay their own salaries. Is that what Jerry Brienza wants to see happen again? As a taxpayer and traveler, I am shocked to see public officials disregard this dangerous spike in the COVID-19 virus.

Jackson County leads the state in new cases and Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center’s ICU is almost filled with COVID-19 patients. Why are these folks, charged with our safety, risking our health with their “I don’t give a damn” attitude about the virus? I have business to conduct out of state and am now afraid to travel through the Medford airport because travelers are jammed tightly together in lines and the waiting area. I fear the Medford airport has become a super-spreader facility!

I’m filing formal complaints with Oregon OSHA, the CDC, the Oregon Health Authority and TSA.

Neal Hribar lives in Medford.