KEY POINTS

  • An airport in Atlanta saw delays in flights after a TSA agent tested positive for COVID-19
  • Officials at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport had to close its main security checkpoint for sanitation
  • The positive TSA agent last worked Tuesday from 3:30 a.m. until noon
  • The agent became the 30th TSA employee to test positive for COVID-19

One of the busiest airports in The United States saw delays in flights after a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent tested positive for COVID-19 late Wednesday (July 1).

“We had a confirmed positive COVID case that was reported to us this morning,” TSA regional spokesperson Mark Howell told CBS46.

The positive case prompted officials at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia to close its main security checkpoint and underwent a “thorough biohazard cleaning.”

All domestic traffic was rerouted through the airport's north terminal checkpoint, added the outlet.

Atlanta Airport Students stranded at the baggage claim area of Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after a snow storm on Jan. 10, 2011. Photo: Getty Images/ Jessica McGowan

The closure saw travelers pack the north security checkpoint before airport management decided to open three lanes of the main checkpoint following proper sanitation. They also said the remaining lanes will be closed until Thursday so they can be thoroughly cleaned.

Passengers were given free face masks and were urged to follow physical distance procedures.

“So far it looks like they've done what they need to do to keep people safe so no complaints,” passenger Brandon Smith told CBS46.

FOX 5 meanwhile said that the unidentified screening officer who tested positive for the virus last worked Tuesday from 3:30 a.m. until noon.

TSA officials pointed out that the officer became the 30th TSA employee to test positive for COVID-19. The agency reported 28 screening officers falling ill from the virus in June, alongside one non-screening employee who also contracted COVID-19.

Howell said all employees were notified about the new COVID-19 case. They are also tracing those who had direct contact with the security officer to determine who else will need to be quarantined.

He told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution that passengers should allow “extra time” to pass through the mandated security screening “in case something like this happens.” The rerouting from the main security checkpoint to the north security checkpoint saw travelers forming long queues and had to wait for up to an hour.

Airport management is expecting to see an influx of travelers for the Fourth of July holiday, with Thursday as the “peak travel day” for passengers aiming to enjoy the long weekend. Officials are advising travelers to come to the airport early to avoid long lines and the holiday rush.