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California

A second LAX screener tests positive for the coronavirus

LAX
A person who works as a medical screener at LAX has tested positive for the new coronavirus.
(Paul Morse / Los Angeles Times)

A second LAX worker has tested positive for coronavirus, officials said Friday.

The confirmed case is a screener who checked arriving passengers for signs of the coronavirus, officials said. The person worked at the same quarantine station in the airport as a person who officials confirmed earlier this week had also been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

“They are likely to have had the same exposure,” said L.A. County health department director Barbara Ferrer.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will investigate how the worker became ill, because it falls under the federal jurisdiction of Customs and Border Protection, she said.

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“We need CDC to go in and work with the staff that are at the quarantine station, look at who the travelers were that came through that day, assess the protections that are being used and assessed where exactly the exposure was,” Ferrer said in a news conference on Friday.

She said county workers are interviewing the close contacts of the LAX workers and monitoring them for symptoms and self-quarantining them if necessary. Ferrer emphasized that there is still no evidence of community spread in L.A. County.

“We know that as we see increased cases there’s greater concern in some of our communities as to what this means,” Ferrer said. “For the general public, your risk still remains low, though this is the time you make sure you’re practicing good public health hygiene.”

The first LAX worker was confirmed as having the virus Tuesday and so far has a mild case and has been isolated, the sources said. Family members of the person also have been tested.

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Since then, officials have been testing other workers.

In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security described the worker as a medical screener who “wore all the correct protective equipment and took necessary protections on the job.”

“As soon as the individual began to feel sick, they self-quarantined, saw a physician, and reported to the appropriate authorities and officials,” a DHS spokesperson said in the statement.

Here are steps LAX says it has taken:

— Installing more than 250 additional hand sanitizer stations throughout terminals at LAX.

— Cleaning public areas and restrooms at least once an hour.

— Using virus- and bacteria-killing disinfectants.

— Increasing deep cleaning throughout the airport, focusing on “high touch” areas at the airport such as handrails, escalators, elevator buttons and restroom doors.

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— Coordinating with contracting partners to ensure that their cleaning crews are following the same protocols.

— Adding signage to high-traffic areas, including areas with passengers, with information on how to reduce the spread of illness and symptoms of the coronavirus.


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