Colorado buys millions of masks, gloves as virus surge nears

Passengers wait to pass through the south security checkpoint while defying a social distancing sign at Denver International Airport as a statewide stay-at-home order remains in effect to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Denver. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

Anyone passing through Denver International Airport will need to don a face mask, beginning May 6 and lasting until further notice, airport officials announced Monday.

The new requirement falls in line with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s public health order, which goes into effect Wednesday, and mandates that anyone ages 3 and older must wear a face covering in public when visiting or waiting in line at commercial businesses, bus stops and health care facilities.

“The health and safety of our passengers and employees is our number one priority, and it is going to take all of us to slow the spread of COVID-19,” airport CEO Kim Day stated in the Monday news release. “As we slowly enter the recovery phase of the pandemic, it is important that we each take personal responsibility to keep ourselves and our community safe.”

In addition to the airport requiring its own employees wear face masks, DIA has also implemented several other precautionary measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

More than 100 hand sanitizing stations have been installed in the “high-traffic” areas throughout the terminal, and disinfecting wipe dispensers have been placed at each gate for passengers to wipe down their space when boarding.

Additionally, TSA lines have been reconfigured to ensure safe distances between passengers, and plexiglass shields are currently being installed at TSA screening podiums to allow space between security officers and passengers.

Airport officials said that although passengers should cover their face throughout the airport, they should also be prepared to adjust their mask in the TSA process so that officers can confirm their identity.

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Other safety measures implemented include using floor tape where necessary to indicate safe distances to stand, disabling air hand dryers in the restrooms to reduce spreading germs, and closing food court seating on all three concourses.

“We have implemented numerous measures to encourage social distancing and good hygiene practices throughout the airport,” Day said in a statement. “But this situation remains fluid. As we prepare for people to return to travel, we continue to focus on the health and safety of our passengers and will implement additional safety measures as necessary.”

The airport has reported a 95% decline in passenger traffic compared to this time last year, as less people are flying during the pandemic.  

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