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Positive COVID Test Causes Delays at World's Busiest Airport

Atlanta checkpoint was closed for deep cleaning
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2020 8:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – Despite sharply reduced passenger numbers during the pandemic, there were long lines at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Wednesday after a TSA screener tested positive for COVID-19. The main security checkpoint at the airport was shut down for a biohazard cleaning and travelers were directed to a smaller checkpoint, Fox reports. Authorities say the TSA agent last worked at the checkpoint from 3:30am until noon on Tuesday. There have been at least 30 confirmed coronavirus cases and one death among TSA employees at the airport, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

TSA spokesman Mark Howell says travelers over the holiday weekend should give themselves extra time "in case something like this happens." He says a few lanes reopened late Wednesday and that the full checkpoint should be open Thursday. Howell says the airport, the world's busiest for passengers, expects to screen around 27,000 people Thursday and Friday, up 50% from recent days, CNN reports. Before the pandemic, more than 250,000 people a day passed through the airport. Worldwide passenger numbers fell around 90% as countries closed their borders, but cargo traffic remained steady, which made Anchorage International Airport the busiest in the world for flight movement for a few days in April and May. (Read more airport stories.)

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