Baggage handler, gate agent at Charlotte Douglas test positive for COVID-19

CHARLOTTE — There is a growing concern at Charlotte’s airport, with at least two different workers reportedly now infected with the coronavirus.

After receiving several calls, Channel 9 reporter Tina Terry confirmed with a local union on Wednesday that a baggage handler and a gate agent for Piedmont Airlines at Charlotte Douglas International Airport have both tested positive for COVID-19.


A family member of the gate agent told Channel 9 she was admitted to a local hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and was hooked up to a ventilator.

“My loved one worked and then a few days later, not having gone anywhere else, she starts having symptoms,” said the woman’s relative, who asked to remain anonymous. She thinks the woman contracted the virus while at work.

She said her loved one is in stable condition. She also said she’s calling on American Airlines and the airport to do more to protect employees.

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"They haven't done any temperature checks on employees -- or passengers," the family member said.

Donielle Prophete, a representative for the union that represents ramp and customer service agents at the airport, said they have been pushing for more worker protections.

"We have made a request for thermometers,” Prophete said. “We’re trying to find a way to make it possible for all employees to social distance. It’s really not that easy working at an airport with people traveling everywhere.”

An American Airlines spokesperson told Channel 9 over the phone that there is a low supply of thermometers and, even if they had them, she said checking everyone’s temperature would be difficult logistically.

For now, the company is urging team members to check their own temperatures before heading to work.

The infected gate agent’s family member was also concerned because she has heard that workers are not being given gloves and masks to wear. American Airlines has said there is no CDC guidance for that, however, they will allow employees to wear gloves and masks if they bring their own.

Last week, Channel 9 reported that an American Airlines flight attendant died from COVID-19.

At the time, two flight attendants, who wanted to remain anonymous, raised concerns to Channel 9 about safety conditions, saying flights should stop altogether.

American Airlines statement:

“The safety of our customers and team members is our top priority. American works closely with the CDC. If American is notified that a customer or team member tests positive for any infectious disease, including COVID-19, our medical team coordinates with the CDC and public health authority on any required health and safety related measures. This process aims to protect the health, safety and privacy of all team members.”