Local colleges monitor coronavirus ahead of spring break

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across seas, United States health officials said it’s only a matter of time before there’s an outbreak in the U.S.

This outbreak has some locals rethinking their travel plans, but travel agents aren’t yet suggesting cancelling trips.

The fear of a possible coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the Mid-South. Hospitals and public universities are keeping a close eye on the virus.

The University of Memphis sent a statement to staff and students, saying it is in communication with several state agencies for “recommendations, guidelines and preparations for any potential impact of the coronavirus.”

U of M student Christian Wienrich said these precautions have made him more aware when it comes to travel, especially with spring break around the corner.

“I always see people walking around with masks in the airport, and I think that’s pretty good protection, but even that, I’m not sure how effective that would be,” Wienrich said.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center also sent a letter to students, saying any student traveling through a Level 3 country will not be allowed to return to campus until a 14-day quarantine has been completed. 

The CDC said a Level 3 region, which currently includes China and South Korea, is a highly affected area they suggest travelers avoid.

Despite these warnings, Jennifer Krutchen, president of Travelunnium, said that hasn’t slowed down travelers in the Mid-South. 

“We’ve had people that may go in a different direction, but people are still traveling,” she said. “We are busier now than we’ve ever been.”

Krutchen said airlines are giving waivers for travelers heading to lower risk regions, such as Italy and Japan.

She said she encourages anyone planning to travel out of the country to get travel insurance.

“Most travelers’ medical insurance does not cover them out of the United States,” Krutchen said.

Krutchen said they keep a close eye on CDC alerts regarding travel, and she encourages everyone to do the same. 

“This is a global issue, and if everyone comes together and works together to prevent the spreading, it can easily be stopped,” she said.

Krutchen said if you are traveling to an at-risk area, airlines will allow you to re-book, but you won’t get a refund on your flight.

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