Los Angeles International Airport officials have reiterated their plans to take steps to reduce the spread of germs to protect employees and travelers from exposure to the coronavirus.
Those steps include partnering with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Customs and Border Protection and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to implement federally mandated screening of travelers with possible exposure, Los Angeles World Airports officials said Friday.
“LAWA is on the front lines of the fight to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and we are doing everything in our power to make sure the environment at LAX is as safe and clean as possible for our employees and guests,” said Justin Erbacci, interim CEO of LAWA. “We are following the guidance provided to us by federal and local public health officials, ensuring that the CDC’s passenger screening process happens in isolated areas, and implementing new procedures including hourly deep cleaning of high-touch areas in our terminals and installing hundreds of new hand sanitizer stations for passengers and employees.”
The assurances from LAWA officials followed revelations this week that two contract workers helping to medically screen returning passengers for possible coronavirus exposure contracted the virus themselves.
In January, the CDC began enhanced screening of passengers at LAX and other U.S. airports who traveled to countries that have been identified as high-risk for exposure within 14 days of their arrival at LAX.
LAWA officials said that screening takes place away from major public areas, and any passengers identified as at-risk or given quarantine orders are held in isolation until they can be taken to a medical facility or quarantine location. So far, eight passengers arriving at LAX have been given quarantine orders, with the most recent case more than a week ago, airport officials said.
Specific actions that LAWA officials said they have taken at the airport include deep cleaning protocols throughout LAX, focusing on “high-touch” areas like handrails, escalators, elevator buttons and restroom doors.
Terminal restrooms and public areas are cleaned hourly, coordinated with contractors to ensure their cleaning crews are following the same protocols, sanitizing touchpads and kiosks in the customs area hourly. A total of 250 hand-sanitizer stations have been added throughout the airport, with 300 more arriving soon, airport officials said.
LAWA is also ensuring dog-handlers in its Pets Unstressing Passengers program carry hand sanitizer to share with guests. The airport has been distributing individual hand-sanitizer bottles to all LAWA administrative offices and has added signage to high-traffic areas within the terminals with information on COVID-19 symptoms and how to reduce the spread of illness.
Airport operators said they are providing frequent updates to LAWA employees, stakeholders and government partners and have created external and internal websites to share updated information on COVID-19.
The new public website can be accessed at www.flylax.com/en/traveler-updates.
So far in March, flights are down 3.9% at LAX from last year, and concessions revenue is also down, officials said. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration reported to LAWA that passenger screening numbers were down 20% from last year.