LAWA TAKES ACTION TO REDUCE THE SPREAD OF GERMS AND PROTECT TRAVELERS AND EMPLOYEES
03/06/2020 02:00 PM
LAWA TAKES ACTION TO REDUCE THE SPREAD OF GERMS AND PROTECT TRAVELERS AND EMPLOYEES
(Los Angeles, CA) Since first learning of the COVID-19 virus (novel coronavirus), Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) has been working with federal, state and local partners to take action to protect the health of all those who travel through and work at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). This includes partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LA County Health) to facilitate the implementation of the federally mandated screening of travelers with possible exposure, and keeping it away from public areas, as well as coordinating with public health agencies to ensure that best practices to keep its employees and guests safe are being employed at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
“LAWA is on the front lines of the fight to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus and we are doing everything in our power to make sure the environment at LAX is as safe and clean as possible for our employees and guests," said Justin Erbacci, Interim Chief Executive Officer, LAWA. “We are following the guidance provided to us by federal and local public health officials, ensuring that the CDC’s passenger screening process happens in isolated areas, and implementing new procedures including hourly deep cleaning of high-touch areas in our terminals and installing hundreds of new hand sanitizer stations for passengers and employees.”
Specific actions that LAWA has taken to reduce the spread of germs include:
Implementing deep cleaning protocols throughout LAX, focusing on “high touch” areas like handrails, escalators, elevator buttons and restroom doors;
Ensuring that terminal restrooms and public areas are cleaned hourly;
Coordinating with our contracting partners to ensure that their cleaning crews are following the same protocols;
Sanitizing touchpads and kiosks in the customs area hourly;
Adding 250 hand-sanitizer stations throughout the airport, with 300 more arriving soon;
Ensuring that all Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUPs) handlers carry hand sanitizer to share with guests;
Distributing individual and desk-sized hand sanitizer bottles to all LAWA administrative offices;
Adding signage to high traffic areas within our terminals with information on COVID-19 symptoms and how to reduce the spread of illness;
Putting up more than 250 signs, flyers and poster boards throughout the administrative offices with signage from the LA County Department of Public Health and CDC;
Providing gloves to cleaning crews;
Providing frequent updates to LAWA employees, stakeholders and government partners on our COVID-19 response; and
Launching external and internal websites to share updated information on LAWA's response to COVID-19 and action passengers can take to protect themselves. The new webpage on FlyLAX.com can be found here.
LAWA continues to be in close contact with, and following the guidance provided by, public health experts at the CBP, CDC and LA County Health, and is implementing all suggested protocols. At Interim CEO Erbacci’s request, LA County Health has designated a specific point of contact for ongoing LAWA coordination and real-time updates. Currently, the CDC and County Health are not recommending personal face masks for individuals who do not have prolonged exposure to individuals who have been identified as at risk. Per public health officials, the best defense is frequent and thorough hand washing and not touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth.
In January, the CDC began enhanced screening of passengers at 11 airports under a presidential directive, including Los Angeles International Airport. In addition to screening identified passengers on direct flights coming into LAX from restricted countries, CDC also began screening passengers that were present in restricted countries within 14 days of their arrival at LAX. This screening builds on established infectious disease protocols, which include reviewing information received from pilots, flight attendants, or crew who are trained to spot and report symptoms. This also provides an opportunity to educate passengers on steps they should take if they do develop symptoms.
LAWA is working with CBP and CDC to ensure that screening happens away from major public areas and that any passenger identified as at-risk or given quarantine orders is held in isolation while awaiting transport to a medical facility or quarantine location. So far, eight passengers at LAX have been given quarantine orders, with the most recent case more than a week ago.
In terms of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, LAWA does not have information on travelers who may have been exposed to or confirmed to have it. That information is with the CDC and County Health.
While the detailed, full impact the coronavirus has had on LAWA’s and its partners' revenue streams has not been determined, out of an abundance of caution the agency is starting to take steps to reduce costs where appropriate. So far in March, flights are down 3.9% and revenue taken in by our concessions is down as well. Yesterday, TSA reported to LAWA that passenger screening numbers were down 20% year over year. We are keeping a close eye on these numbers and planning ahead internally to reduce expenses. Some immediate cost reduction measures put in place include:
Not approving any new hiring requests, except for specific critical and predesignated positions;
Deferring any new, non-essential discretionary spending such as non-essential trainings and attendance at conferences;
Only approving new contracts and task orders that are essential to key capital projects and critical tasks;
Limiting overtime to those activities that are necessary for safety, critical operations, or emergency management; and
Asking every business unit to identify ways to reduce expenditures that are not critical or can be delayed.
LAWA will continue to closely monitor flights and revenue and continue to take appropriate and fiscally responsible actions as needed.
Additionally, heath agencies recommend personal hygiene and frequent hand washing as the best way to prevent illness. This information has been shared widely with airport employees and with the traveling public. Recommendations include:
Wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds using soap and water;
If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content;
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands;
Avoid unnecessary contact with others (handshakes, fist bumps, hugs, etc.);
Avoid contact with people who are sick;
Stay home when sick;
Avoid touching your eyes, ears, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; and
While not protective against COVID-19, public health officials also recommend the influenza vaccine. It’s not too late to get an influenza vaccine, since flu season can last into spring.
As new information and recommendations become available from federal partners and health officials, LAWA will share it on its public-facing website, FlyLAX.com, as well as on social media channels.
About Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) is the City of Los Angeles department that owns and operates Los Angeles International (LAX) and Van Nuys (VNY) general aviation airports, as well as aviation-related property in Palmdale. Both play an integral role in helping to meet the Southern California regional demand for passenger, cargo and general aviation service. Both airports make a distinct contribution to the strength of the system as it provides a high level of safety, security and service for its customers, communities and stakeholders. More information can be found at flylax.com.
As a covered entity under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the City of Los Angeles does not discriminate on the basis of disability and, upon request, will provide reasonable accommodation to ensure equal access to its programs, services, and activities. Alternative formats in large print, braille, audio, and other forms (if possible) will be provided upon request.