Airplanes aren’t the only things soaring at LAX — so are COVID-19 numbers.
An outbreak has hit the Transportation Safety Administration, but airport officials say it has not yet affected service.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, at least 400 cases have been reported among TSA employees and workers at American and Southwest airlines.
Kaylee Kelly was trying to get back to college in Indiana but wasn’t able to get there on Southwest. Tommie Henson, Kaylee’s grandmother said the flight was canceled for the second time but they found a new one with United.
Despite COVID-19 throwing a wrench into Kelly’s travel plans, she said she’s not interested in taking the extra precautions that might be on the horizon, including the possible return of mandatory indoor masking.
“I don’t wear a mask when I fly. I’m done with masks,” Kelly told KTLA with a laugh.
LAX does require indoor masking, but on Monday, many people were seen walking around the airport without face coverings. Masks are optional on most airlines.
Health officials say at least 220 TSA staffers have tested positive for the coronavirus. That could be the largest active outbreak that county health officials are now watching.
But a healthy amount of back-up workers seems to be picking up the slack as LAX and TSA officials say the outbreak is not affecting service at the airport or wait times in security lines.
The latest data shows the entire country is in the middle of another coronavirus surge, with the omicron subvariant known as BA.5. Scientists say it appears to be the virus’s most transmissible version to date — able to break through all kinds of immune defenses.
Still, air travelers that spoke to KTLA do not seem overly concerned.
The Gill family had an outbreak of COVID-19 just two weeks earlier.
“We were good,” Julianne Gill said. “The kids had a fever for a day … I just felt a bit congested.”
Gill said they’ve been wearing masks in large crowds and in-flight and they even masked up at Disneyland
“We’re being careful,” she said. “As careful as can be.”
Ehren Adams gets tested as often as travel requires it and said the latest outbreak has him concerned as he’s one of the few to never catch COVID.
Peter Murphy, who lives in Hong Kong, said he’s been vaccinated and boosted twice already to protect himself.
“The world is slowly coming to terms with it,” Murphy said. “Immunity seems to be quite high.”
His son, Wilf, agreed with his dad, saying the coronavirus will have likely have to be treated like the flu in the future.
“It’s just something that we have to deal with,” Wilf said.
The vast majority of doctors still say vaccines and boosters are the way to go to protect yourself from COVID-19. They also recommend wearing a mask in large crowds whether you are inside or outdoors.
And if you have them on hand, use rapid tests regularly, especially if you are feeling ill.