A trainee at the air traffic control center tested positive for COVID-19.
Pablo Monsalve/Corbis via Getty Images
Topline: All flights to major New York City-area and Philadelphia airports were briefly halted on Saturday afternoon due to the coronavirus causing “staffing issues” at an air traffic control center in Long Island, according to a notice from the Federal Aviation Authority.
- A trainee at the facility, in Ronkonkoma, New York, tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday, the FAA said.
- The trainee hadn’t been in the air traffic control site since March 17, but the FAA described it was taking precautionary measures while still keeping the center operation.
- “We have contacted local health authorities and we are developing a plan to quickly sanitize/clean the affected areas,” the FAA said in a statement.
- The original advisory issued by the FAA indicated that flights already in the air were getting diverted or sent back to their airports.
- The directive included major New York City airports like JFK and LaGuardia, as well as the Philadelphia International Airport.
- A half hour after the first advisory, the FAA issued a second statement saying that restrictions had largely been lifted, aside from some flights that were traveling to JFK.
Crucial quote: “The FAA is working with local health officials and employee representatives to determine how many personnel might have interacted with the trainee in recent days,” the aviation authority said about the New York case.
Key background: Other flights around the country have been delayed or canceled as the coronavirus shuts down travel and people stay indoors. Air traffic control towers at Chicago’s Midway International Airport and Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport were both closed after technicians tested positive for the virus.
Crucial statistic: There have been nearly 20,000 cases of the coronavirus reported in the U.S. so far.
This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.