Atlanta airport checkpoint closed after worker tests positive for coronavirus

Atlanta airport checkpoint closed after worker tests positive for coronavirus
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Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest, has been forced to close its primary security checkpoint after a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worker tested positive for the coronavirus.

The closure, which comes just ahead of the July 4 weekend, will likely not be fully lifted until Thursday, TSA spokesman Mark Howell told CNN, although he said the Domestic Main checkpoint was able to reopen a handful of lanes Wednesday evening. The agency does not expect the closure to affect holiday travel.

Howell told CNN the agency plans to screen approximately 27,000 people at the airport over the next two days, an increase of about 50 percent from normal traffic. Overall, more than 860 agency employees around the country have tested positive for the virus, among them 29 at the Atlanta airport.

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Following the closure, the airport shifted screening of all passengers to another checkpoint, T North, while construction has closed another, smaller checkpoint, T South.

Several House Republicans this week urged the White House to support a proposal requiring the TSA to perform temperature checks at all airport security checkpoints.

“Having TSA temporarily screen passengers for elevated temperatures, while ensuring that travelers with unrelated medical issues causing elevated temperatures can still travel, has a number of practical advantages,” states the letter to White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill No signs of breakthrough for stalemated coronavirus talks On The Money: Administration defends Trump executive orders | CBO reports skyrocketing deficit | Government pauses Kodak loan pending review MORE, led by Rep. Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddHouse Dems introduce bill to require masks on planes and in airports Bipartisan bill introduced to require TSA to take temperature checks How to combat substance abuse during COVID-19 MORE (R-N.C.).

The advocacy group Airlines for America has also requested the policy, announcing Monday that major U.S. airlines will begin requiring passengers to fill out a form on any symptoms during the check-in process, including asking passengers if they have experienced a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske has defended the federal government’s lack of temperature checks, noting that many cases of the virus are asymptomatic.

“Temperature checks are not a guarantee that passengers that don’t have an elevated temperature don’t have COVID-19,” Pekoske said.