LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Since the positive COVID-19 diagnosis of a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) baggage officer at the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, the staff tells Spectrum News 1 precaution is in place to prevent the virus from spreading. Travel is down tremendously, with TSA reporting a decline nationwide of up to 90%; the Louisville airport is feeling that, too.
The airport announced the positive coronavirus test over the weekend on Saturday. Spokesperson Natalie Chaudoin says the officer had limited exposure to others and did not work in passenger screening.
TSA directed Spectrum News 1 to its protocol guidelines online, which indicates the officer is placed on administrative leave. Under the guidelines, anyone who’d been exposed to the officer would also be required to self-quarantine under paid leave.
Chaudoin says there are procedures in place to sanitize and clean with particular attention to high-touch surfaces and at gates.
She says fewer flights mean fewer travelers, and the airport has scaled back services like reducing hours for shops and closing or reducing restaurant hours temporarily. The information desk is also closed.
“Because of the decline in air travelers currently, we are having to make adjustments and arrangements to our terminal operations, you know so we are kind of having to look at things a little differently to see how some of our business partners can still operate and serve those who are still traveling,” said Chaudoin.
Bill LaFollette has volunteered at the desk, which is not a paid position, for about 14 years. The longtime volunteer is also a family member of a Spectrum News 1 staff member.
He’s disappointed in the change and hopes life can soon get back to business as usual.
“Well, it’s ironic because a couple of months ago as you may recall, we had a celebration. Last year was the best year ever for Muhammad Ali International Airport. More flights, more passengers, more revenue. And now this on the heels of that- it’s quite a departure,” said LaFollette.
“I’ve done it for about 14 years and the group of us- there are about 70 of us who work in the information booth…we’re a pretty tight-knit group. Mostly seniors retired folks. We care for one another and take pride in what we do at the airport,” he explained.