Control tower at JFK airport shuts down for cleaning after worker tests positive for coronavirus

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The air traffic control tower at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City is temporarily closed for cleaning after a technician tested positive for the coronavirus on March 19, the FAA confirmed Friday.

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Air traffic controllers are currently operating from an “alternate location” at the airport, which remains open, the FAA said.

“A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) technician who is assigned to the air traffic control tower at John F. Kennedy International Airport tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday," the FAA confirmed Friday.

“A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) technician who is assigned to the air traffic control tower at John F. Kennedy International Airport tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday," the FAA confirmed Friday. (iStock)

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The technician was said to have last made a “brief visit” to the building on March 16, although he did not enter the “tower cab,” or the area where air traffic controllers operate. The FAA said that the last time he was in the building prior to his March 16 visit was March 11.

“Even though the technician did not enter the tower cab, as a precaution we scheduled a thorough cleaning of the tower cab, equipment room, administrative offices and elevators to ensure a safe work environment for all of our employees.”

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The FAA said that moving air traffic controllers to an alternate location was part of a previously organized contingency plan, adding that all of its towers across the country have similar contingency plans in place to “ensure continued operations.”

A representative for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees operations at JFK, was not immediately available to comment.

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The FAA's announcement comes days after the control tower at Chicago's Midway airport closed due to several employees testing positive for COVID-19. McCarran International Airport had also temporarily closed following a worker testing positive for the virus.