Update: The airport is correcting the governor’s claim about a 52% positivity rate at the airport, that only 2 people tested positive in this round, and he’s confusing the total number of people at the airport who tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic.
— Orlando International Airport (@MCO) June 17, 2020
Florida reported that 260 out of 500 employees at Orlando International Airport (MCO) tested positive for the novel coronavirus. They did widespread testing at the airport as a result of a handful of cases there, followed up by contact tracing. The 52% positivity rate is huge, but – without more information about the specific roles involved – makes sense for indoor air conditioned environment.
These numbers are part of 2780 new cases in Florida reported Tuesday. Florida is aggressively testing, with approximately 30,000 tests per day, but their positivity rate remains above 5% and is higher than it was a month ago. Case counts don’t appear to be just a function of ‘doing more tests’.
Like in Texas, Arizona, Alabama and a handful of other states there’s significant recent growth in reported cases, however hospitalizations in Florida (and Texas) do not appear to be overwhelming hospitals at this point.
TSA agents were specifically at risk of catching the virus early in the pandemic, so it’s not surprising to see case clusters among other airport workers too. However without a release of more information about the clusters, it’s difficult to evaluate risk to passengers who may have flown through the airport or understand how the virus spread in this cluster.
Credit: Orlando International Airport
The latest information on the airport website is that ‘Orlando International Airport Welcomes Back Passengers’. Ahem. Mere days ago the airport was promoting “a ray of sunlight has peeked above the horizon after a dark pandemic night that for a scary time seemed without end.” Florida is one of the key markets driving a resurgence in domestic leisure travel.