Coronavirus' growing impact on travel weighing heavy on LAX fliers, airport operations

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KABC) -- The threat of coronavirus has prompted officials at Los Angeles International Airport to take steps to protect the thousands of fliers who pass through the major travel hub daily, while some airline passengers have taken to wearing masks while remaining vigilant against the potentially deadly infection.

Aviation experts say that the outbreak could cost airlines as much as $113 billion in lost revenue. United Airlines has already cut back on 20% of international flights and 10% of domestic travel.

Other airlines are also expected to ground planes.

Meanwhile, a contracted medical professional who conducted passenger screenings at LAX tested positive for coronavirus, health officials said Wednesday.

RELATED: LAX medical screener tests positive for coronavirus
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A contracted medical professional who conducted passenger screenings at Los Angeles International Airport tested positive for coronavirus late Tuesday night, according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security.



The person, who has not been identified, last screened travelers for illness on Feb. 21, more than a week before exhibiting cold-like symptoms. The individual is under self-quarantine at home with mild symptoms and under medical supervision, officials say, and their immediate family is also under home quarantine.

Despite the growing concern, some are still heading to the airport for travel.

Some travelers are wearing masks, while those who aren't are taking other steps to protect themselves.

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ABC News Correspondent Zachary Kiesch reports on how to prepare and protect yourself from the coronavirus.



"Keeping everything clean, keeping my hands away from my face, hand sanitizer, wipes," traveler Abby Huhn explained the steps she is taking to stay protected.

The virus is also forcing new changes at the airport in an effort to protect travelers amid the outbreak.

RELATED: 4 more cases of coronavirus confirmed in LA County, health officials say

Cleaning crews are stepping up their efforts to sanitize areas, and more hand sanitation stations are being placed throughout the airport.

For other travelers, coronavirus isn't a top concern.

"I'm just flying to Florida to watch my kid play volleyball. I'm not worried about it. We brought wipes, we'll wipe down, but that's not anything different than I ever do," one passenger said.

Although coronavirus will slow travel and may change how we travel, many insist they will still be flying in the face of virus fears.

Including a previous case, there are now a total of 11 cases across Los Angeles County, where officials declared a state of emergency Wednesday.

In addition, California's first coronavirus fatality - an elderly patient who apparently contracted the illness on a cruise - prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom Wednesday to declare a statewide emergency as six new cases were confirmed.

RELATED: California Gov. Gavin Newsom declares statewide emergency after 1st novel coronavirus death

Newsom said the emergency proclamation is intended to help procure supplies and resources quickly. He announced the move Wednesday afternoon during a news conference, hours after the patient's death in Placer County was announced.

The measure made California the third U.S. state to declare a state of emergency, joining Washington and Florida, amid 11 deaths in the United States.

California currently has 53 confirmed cases of coronavirus. More than 93,000 cases of the illness have been confirmed globally.

The impact of the coronavirus is being felt all across Southern California.

For in-depth coverage of the new coronavirus, go to www.abc7.com/coronavirus

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