Anchorage airport working to keep COVID-19 cases low

The director of the Anchorage airport says he knows of no COVID-19 cases that have spread from...
The director of the Anchorage airport says he knows of no COVID-19 cases that have spread from that facility.(ktuu)
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:40 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - At the peak of the summer tourism season, Transportation Security Administration workers at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport were screening as many as 9,000 passengers a day.

Despite close interaction with the public, the TSA says the number of its Anchorage workers who have reported testing positive for COVID-19 since March 2020 is only 38.

“If you go through the TSA checkpoint, you’ll notice that they’re all masked, they’re all shielded so they’ve got their plastic shielding in there,” said Airport Manager Jim Szczesniak. “The TSA employees, just with the volume of passengers they’re dealing with, I can tell that those productions are working.”

TSA employees are required to report a positive COVID-19 test, according to a TSA spokeswoman. Right now, they aren’t required to be vaccinated but that will change in mid-November when President Joe Biden’s mandate that all federal employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 goes into effect.

“... employees are routinely reminded that if they are feeling ill, they should not come to work to reduce the risk of spreading the virus,” Spokesperson Lorie Dankers wrote in an email.

Szczesniak said, in addition to low COVID-19 numbers for TSA employees, the airport itself is staying clean.

“We’ve got no known cases of spread here at the airport that we’re aware of,” he said. “From a traveling perspective you are definitely seeing a lot of people coming through here and leaving positive comments on our reviews of the airport about how clean and how safe they felt at the airport.”

In the last few months they’ve also made upgrades to safety features in the terminal. This includes adding UV-C lights that constantly sanitize the handrails on the escalators, a new air filtration system and air monitoring system, and even drinking fountains that people don’t have to touch.

Szczesniak said he believes what they are doing is working.

“We are just making sure that we are doing everything we can to keep germs out of the terminal,” he said.

Passengers, for the most part, are doing their part by wearing masks, according to Szczesniak. Masks are still required in the terminal and on the plane. Even though the fine for not wearing a mask has recently doubled, Szczesniak said the airport hasn’t issued any citations. He said most disputes about mask wearing have been resolved with a conversation.

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