Los Angeles International Airport officials have installed hundreds of hand sanitizer stations and staff are doing hourly deep cleaning of terminal bathrooms in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus.
During a news conference Friday, Justin Erbacci, interim CEO of Los Angeles World Airports, detailed the efforts of the second largest airport in the country.
Hours earlier, Los Angeles County health officials announced that a second LAX screener had tested positive for COVID-19, raising the number of confirmed cases in the county to 13. Workers at LAX were tested after the first medical screener at the airport tested positive for the virus.
L.A. County and California officials declared health emergencies earlier this week in response to the spread of the illness. California has 69 confirmed cases of the illness, while the number of cases has surpassed 100,000 worldwide.
Erbacci said officials at the airport are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other local, state and federal agencies to combat the spread of germs during the outbreak.
“We are taking this situation extremely seriously,” he said.
Officials have installed more than 250 hand sanitizer stations throughout the airport’s terminals, with another 300 expected within the next week. In addition, more than 550 hand sanitizers have been provided to employees and desk-sized bottles are being provided at office buildings, Erbacci said.
Custodial staff are doing hourly deep-cleanings of terminal bathrooms and other “high-touch” areas including hand rails, door handles and elevator buttons, Erbacci said. Strong virus and bacteria killing disinfectants are being used to clean, and contractors at the airport are being asked to do the same, the CEO said.
Signs encouraging employees and travelers to wash their hands frequently and properly have been added throughout the airport and offices.
Erbacci also highlighted that staff have been told that they must stay home if they are sick.
“At a time when people are asking whether it’s safe to fly, we believe that accurate information is essential,” Erbacci said.
He encouraged travelers to visit the airport’s website for up-to-date information on their efforts.
Earlier this year, the CDC began enhanced screening at airports with quarantine stations, including LAX. The airport has protocols in place to isolate their screening operation from employees and the public.
In addition, public health officials will monitor for signs of ill passengers who present signs and symptoms of the coronavirus at the airport.
Eight passengers at LAX have been put in government-sponsored quarantine with most recent case occurring more than a week ago, Erbacci said.
The CEO said that airport officials are taking proactive financial measures in the event of a significant decline in demand.
He indicated that airline seats are down by 5% so far this month and the number of passengers screened by Transportation Security Administration Thursday was down more than 20% compared to the same time last year.
“Our message to the traveling public is that we are doing all we can to protect our guests and our employees,” Erbacci said. “We also ask that people do their part by following the guidance of health experts.”