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A Closer Look: A Collaborative Process to Clean Facilities after Positive or Presumed Positive COVID-19 Test

Over the course of the last six weeks during this COVID-19 national emergency, NATCA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have used a thorough and standardized cleaning process in over 40 facilities (view full list) after an employee’s positive or presumed positive test for the virus. It is a very collaborative process that has been effective at ensuring that affected facilities are clean and safe for employees to return.

Step 1 of the process is convening a call organized by the Joint Crisis Action Team (J-CAT). The purpose of the J-CAT call is to have all stakeholders including NATCA and aerospace medicine on the line to make a determination on the level of exposure and its effect on the workforce and overall operation.

The stakeholders discuss the situation and investigate these three things: when was the affected employee in the facility, when did the employee become symptomatic, and where in the facility was the employee.

Cleaning that took place at Houston Center (ZHU) on March 30.

The next question is where was the affected employee and what is their test status. If it’s a presumed positive case, the facility receives a Level 2 cleaning but the facility does not need to vacate the operation and shut down.

However, if the employee tests positive, the next steps are determining every place they’ve been for the last 14 days, having the facility undergo a Level 3 cleaning. ATC services are then limited but can sometimes be handled remotely, as was the case recently at Palm Beach and Orlando, where ATC was still able to be handled safely from a parking garage and the Delta Air Lines ramp tower, respectively.

The cleaning job takes about six hours, regardless of the size of the facility. The company used for the cleaning brings in a crew sized for the facility.