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Coronavirus fears bring questions as Augusta preps for the Masters

Augusta Regional Airport officials say they're prepared to make changes ahead of the Masters in...
Augusta Regional Airport officials say they're prepared to make changes ahead of the Masters in case of coronavirus fears. (Source: WRDW)(WRDW)
Published: Mar. 2, 2020 at 4:42 PM EST
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Monday, March 2, 2020

News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- With the US death toll rising to six and two new coronavirus cases in Florida, local officials are making sure they're prepared.

Here at home, it's a waiting game -- especially as we get closer to the Masters, an event that brings in people from all over the world.

Most officials say they're waiting on direction from the Georgia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, but in just about a month we'll see people from all over the world fly right into the area for the Masters, so we went asking what officials are doing to prepare in the meantime.

In one month, 40,000 people will fly into the Augusta Regional Airport. Executive Director Herbert Judon says the airport even added six new direct flights for the tournament.

"Masters is really busy,” Judon said. “We've got people from all over the country from other countries, many international people come here for the Masters. We typically see the equivalent to a months-worth of aircraft operations at this airport."

Any people coming from an affected area or who have traveled to one will be redirected to one of the 11 screening airports in the country. One of those is Atlanta, but Judon says there are no plans at Augusta just yet.

"I would say that we are flexible to do anything we are called upon to do,” Judon said.

All of this could change fast. But that would have to come from DPH or the CDC. It's the same for Richmond and Columbia County EMA. The same for our schools. And the same for restaurants.

"Masters Week is a big question mark right now,” Havird Usry, a board member with the Georgia Restaurant Association, said. “We obviously have people from all over the world who are going to find their way into our community, and I think we need to have our guard up and make sure these protocols are in place and happening at restaurants."

Those protocols include washing hands, using disinfectant wipes, and sending sick employees home. Until anything changes, it’s Masters planning as usual.

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