St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport Air Traffic Tower Closed After Positive Case of COVID

The air traffic control tower at the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport has been closed due to a positive case of COVID-19.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the airport's control tower will be closed until at least Jan. 31 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In the interim, the organization said that the airspace will instead be monitored by the air traffic control tower at the nearby Tampa International Airport.

The organization added that the temporary closure should not affect travel to and from the Florida airport.

"The FAA has a robust contingency plan for every air traffic control facility, and remains positioned to quickly address the effects of the COVID-19 public health emergency," the agency said in a statement, per the Tampa Bay Times. "The agency continually monitors controller staffing and traffic demand, and remains in close contact with airports, airlines and other stakeholders so we can prioritize our resources to meet the greatest demand."

It was not immediately clear how many may have been affected by the positive coronavirus case, but the FAA's COVID-19 tracking page notes that "personnel tested positive 1/20."

In their release, the FAA noted that cleaning procedures related to COVID-19 usually take place overnight when there are less staff members on the job, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Initially, the cleanings took "six to eight hours to complete," according to the FAA's statement, but now only take "as little as 90 minutes" due to partnerships with local medical experts and cleaning agencies.

"Every ATC (air traffic control) facility has a backup plan in case it has to temporarily close," the FAA added in their statement. "This has been the case for many years and is not related to COVID-19."

Travelers scheduled to travel through the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can review the travel hub's COVID-19 Action Plan online.

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