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            With coronavirus concerns growing, cleaning is focus at Central Illinois airports
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            With coronavirus concerns growing, cleaning is focus at Central Illinois airports

            053019-blm-loc-2cira

            Outbound passengers arrive at the terminal under signs marking the airport's four airlines: American, Allegiant, Delta and Frontier.

            BLOOMINGTON — When Marianne Manko arrived at Bloomington's airport Friday morning, she wasn't surprised to see more cleaning crews. She knew airports were doing as much as possible to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

            “The place was spotless,” said Manko, who lives in Clinton. “You could smell how clean it was. Everyone was cleaning. When I got on the plane, an entire cleaning crew was scrubbing everything down. I’ve never seen anything like that. But you could tell they were really working to make sure it was done right.”

            The thorough cleansing of the terminal at Central Illinois Regional Airport is one of the actions taken to ensure the virus is not spread to travelers, said CIRA spokeswoman Fran Strebing.

            “Everyone is stepping up and taking these responsibilities seriously,” she said.

            Extra cleaning is also being done at the Decatur Airport, said director Tim Wright.

            “But, other than that, it is business as usual,” he said. “We are monitoring the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, using a lot of disinfectant and trying to keep everything as clean as possible.”

            Wright said the airport has not seen a large drop in passengers. “We will continue to monitor everything because all of this has been changing very quickly,” he added.

            General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport also hasn't seen a decrease in passengers. On Thursday, the main parking lot was full because of spring break travelers, and guests were directed to overflow parking areas.

            At Peoria and the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana Airport in Savoy, extra cleaning has been the order of the day.

            “We are doing our best to take extra measures to clean and disinfect to keep travelers, community members, and staff safe,” UI officials said in an e-mail to The Pantagraph.

            Amtrak has had no reports of infected passengers beyond that of a woman who traveled from Chicago to St. Louis, with the train making stops in Normal among other Central Illinois towns. Some services in the Northeast and Pennsylvania have been cut because of lower demand.

            'An evolving situation'

            At the Bloomington airport, the custodial staff is taking extra time to sanitize more areas and using new disinfecting sprays, specifically on and around areas touched by terminal users, Strebing said.

            Manko was on a business/personal trip, connecting in Dallas with a final destination in Phoenix. “The Dallas airport was not as busy as it would be on a normal Friday morning,” she said. “But the Phoenix airport was crowded.”

            Her American Airlines flight from Bloomington to Dallas was full, too, she added.

            “It’s an evolving situation,” Strebing said. “We have seen a reduced number of people flying, but it isn’t so drastic that we have had to cancel any flights. All of our flights continue to operate as scheduled.”

            The parking shuttle bus has gotten more cleaning and hand sanitizer and wipes are available throughout the terminal for personal hygiene and to wipe down luggage. Signs in restrooms remind people to wash their hands for 20 seconds.

            Drea Fecht, a copywriter from Normal, flew into CIRA Saturday morning after a convention in San Diego.

            “I haven’t seen much in the way of changes,” she said. “The airports were full, the flights were full. A lot of it was business as usual.”

            Fecht said she had no concerns about flying. “I’m more laid back, and I’ve been washing my hands more and taking precautions, but my feeling is that you can’t completely stop your life,” she said.

            Some have felt the impact in other ways.

            Kimberly Ensign of Normal started in January to prepare for a trip to the Philippines, leaving from O'Hare in Chicago. “I knew they were keeping the travel numbers low, even at that point,” she said, but on Friday a government lock-down suspended land, air and sea travel through mid-April.

            Because of its proximity to China大中华彩票代理, the Philippines is at a far greater risk of witnessing increased cases of the coronavirus infection compared to other countries.

            Ensign's disappointed, but had been concerned. “I had actually bought an N100 mask from Amazon and they were about $25 bucks at that point,” she said. “I fully intended on using that.”

            Contact Kevin Barlow at (309) 820-3238. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_barlow

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