Charlottesville Airport and travelers proceed with caution
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It’s business almost as usual for the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.
As of Friday, scheduled flights are still taking place with passengers flying in from New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Washington D.C., even as Gov. Ralph Northam made the decision to shut down the state’s schools for two weeks.
According to Stewart Key, a spokesperson for the airport, CHO has implemented a modified cleaning plan for continuous use of disinfectants in sharable spaces like terminals and shuttles. Employees have been briefed in preventative measures, like frequent hand washing and avoiding physical contact. There are also additional supplies in common areas and work spaces. Some travelers utilized a hand sanitizing station in the airport’s main entrance.
Key said the airport is consulting with Thomas Jefferson Health District, which falls under the Virginia Department of Health, to take precautionary measures. Key also said airport staff has been dispositioned to limit its contact with travelers.
“We’ve put some policies in place,” Key said. “To give them the least amount of exposure as possible. We are keeping it to a minimum of meeting with people.”
Travelers in the departures area were focused on staying healthy during their trips and getting home as soon as they could.
John Canning, an elderly traveler from Connecticut is trying to make his way back to his winter home in Florida. Having come through Charlottesville on business, he said he was debating if he should drive the rest of the way or take his next flight.
“I’m traveling on a trip that was booked about a week and a half ago and I’m weighing ‘should I drive?’,” Canning said.
Meanwhile Juliana Molina was on her way back to her home in Colombia, having previously traveled to New York.
“I just came back from New York and I was going to stay here for a couple of days but I decided to get back to Colombia because of the virus,” she said.
Molina has been traveling with latex gloves on her hands and has other supplies in case she needs them.
“I’ve been washing my hands as much as I can. I’m also using gloves when I go on the plane. I actually have some doubts if I should wear the mask or not. I have some but am still deciding if I should,” she said.
Currently the Center for Disease Control does not recommend wearing a mask for people who are not showing symptoms of fever or cough.
New York and Washington D.C. areas have continued to report a spike in confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, but as of Friday afternoon CHO was still accepting flights from those two key travel hub destinations. Key said that in April there would likely be a reduction of three flights from the Washington Dulles International Airport a day to two flights a day.
According to a release from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office, Dulles is one of 11 airports designated by the federal government to receive flights from China, where the virus originated. The CDC is conducting screenings of passengers at Dulles who have been in China or Iran during the past 14 days.
For now CHO is remaining in contact with health officials to determine what the airport needs to be doing in response to the coronavirus. And passengers are trying to get home safely.
UPDATE: A person at CHO visited UVA Health for a temperature, released same day
Over the weekend a person had a temperature at the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport. They were taken to an emergency room at University of Virginia Health before being released later that same day.
“We can confirm that an airport public safety officer was dispatched to the terminal for someone with a slightly raised temperature,” said CHO spokesperson Stewart Key. “The person opted to be seen at the UVA ER. They were transported by the Albemarle County Rescue Squad. We were notified that they were released later that same day.”
According to Key, an airline employee had called about someone not feeling well at the gate. An airport public safety officer completed an assessment and took their temperature.
At this point the airport does not have medical screening in place, but is continuously sanitizing all shared spaces in the terminal.