Port Authority faces in-house COVID-19 surge ahead of holiday season

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New York’s airport authority is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases right before the holiday travel season, officials said Thursday.

Sixty-eight Port Authority employees have tested positive for the virus in the last 30 days, agency executive director Rick Cotton said. As a result, 245 agency workers are currently in quarantine, Cotton said.

“As the number of cases and positivity rates climb, we are highly focused on ensuring that… we are taking all actions we can to ensure the health and safety of our workers,” Cotton said during the Port’s monthly board meeting.

Of the 68 employees, not one has been hospitalized. Agency contact tracers attempted to find the source of each infection — 30 percent were traced to outside of work, while 60 percent had unknown origins, Cotton said.

The Port lost two employees to COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic in March and April. Cotton himself was one of New York’s first public officials to come down with the illness.

Positive test results decreased over the summer — to as little as three in June. Cotton reported 25 coronavirus-positive employees to board members in October.

The Transportation Security Administration, meanwhile, lost its ninth employee to COVID-19 on Monday — 49-year-old Eduard Faktorovich, who worked at Denver International Airport,
according to reports.

Faktorovich’s last day at work was Nov. 2, the TSA said.

There are currently 557 agency employees with COVID-10, according to the TSA website.

New York’s airports have seen more cases among TSA screeners than anywhere else — 270 combined between Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark.

Port Authority officials are expecting an uptick in travelers for the Thanksgiving holiday.

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