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U.S. airports increase coronavirus screening; Missoula airport waiting

Airport director Cris Jensen said Missoula International Airport is not yet on the list of U.S. airports screening for coronavirus. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file photo)

Five cases of the coronavirus were confirmed Tuesday in the U.S., though health officials said it’s not currently a threat to ordinary Americans.

Still, a number of U.S airports are now screening for the virus, and while Missoula International Airport isn’t one of them, it’s watching the issue closely.

“One of the things airports are dealing with today is the discussion about the coronavirus,” said airport director Cris Jensen. “There are 20 airports in the country that are now screening for the virus. Really, they’re airports with international travel.”

Missoula doesn’t have any direct international flights, though it does have flights from major international airports, including Portland and Seattle.

This week, both the Centers for Disease Control and the State Department announced a travel advisory recommending that Americans avoid travel to China when possible.

As of Tuesday morning, China had reported more than 4,500 cases and 100 deaths. The virus also has been reported in 18 locations outside China, including the four U.S. States of Washington, California, Nevada and Illinois.

All four states are connected by a nonstop flight from Missoula.

Jensen said MSO is not yet among the airports screening for the virus.

“I don’t think we’ll see anything trickle down to us, but it’s completely possible,” Jensen said. “It’s something we’ll continue to keep an eye on. We are paying attention to that.”