Coronavirus sparks concerns among Tampa Bay travelers

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Passengers flying in and out of Tampa International Airport are talking about it and thinking about it. There’s no question, the Coronavirus epidemic is one of the biggest topics for travelers right now.

At 35,000 feet, there’s a lot of time to think.

“You can’t help but think about it. People are in masks on the plane. You’re sitting there in a closed space and you hope no one’s sick,” said one woman departing Tampa Monday.

She told 8 on Your Side this dangerous and deadly outbreak is impossible to ignore. “How can you not think about it. People are dying,” she said.

Travelers say what has them especially worried is the rapid rate at which this is spreading all over the world with two positive cases in Tampa Bay, including a woman who recently traveled to Italy which is now considered a hot spot.

Prior to her flight, Sandy Semmler told 8 on your Side she’s reading everything she can about the epidemic as she was about to board her flight home to Minneapolis.

“I’m a biologist so it’s a little bit, I want to know the science behind it.  I don’t quite get all that,” she said.

The country is now reporting the highest number of Coronavirus cases outside of Asia. Major air carriers Delta and American are now canceling service to Milan and possibly Venice.

While Tampa International does not fly direct to Italy, the airport does offer multiple flights to other European countries daily, including Germany where a spike in cases is currently reported.

Airport officials released a statement today assuring the public that Tampa International is safe for travelers, employees, and visitors, posing a low risk for exposure. That being said, no one is taking this lightly.

Those in charge at the busy airport say they will continue to be vigilant in monitoring Coronavirus cases both here at home and abroad. Airport officials addressed the issue Monday regarding passenger and employee safety amidst the Coronavius epidemic, releasing the following statement:

Tampa International Airport is committed to the health and safety of our passengers, employees and guests and we have taken several steps to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus at the Airport. Those steps include increased cleaning and sanitation of high-touch areas, providing extra hand sanitizer in key areas and reminding travelers and employees to practice good hygiene.

At this time, the Florida Department of Health has deemed those visiting or working at TPA to be at a low risk of contracting, carrying or spreading the coronavirus.  Additionally, we have been advised by the TSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection that there have been no changes to their screening procedures at  this time. We aim to do everything we can to protect our traveling public and are in constant contact with the CDC and state and local health officials to follow the most up-to-date protocols in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Tampa International Airport

With Tampa Bay considered a big tourism hot spot this time of year, thousands of travelers from around the world will soon arrive for Spring Break and Easter vacation. The influx of people from all parts of the globe will have local, state and federal authorities on alert.

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