DIA CEO Says The Airport Is Prepared For Coronavirus, But Doesn’t Expect Any Immediate Danger

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Passengers wait to pass through security at Denver International Airport Monday evening Nov. 25 2019. DIA was bracing for both record-setting November snow and the traditional Thanksgiving week crowds.

UPDATE: Thursday, 3/5

Colorado health officials announced the state had its first positive case of the new coronavirus on Thursday, March 5. The patient was an out-of-state visitor to Summit County, a male in his 30s. He had contact with someone who had the disease outside of Colorado. The state tested him for the virus and received a positive result.

Our original reporting continues below.

Denver International Airport said it's considered taking precautions to prevent coronavirus from spreading, but doesn’t plan on taking any action right away.

In an interview with Colorado Matters, DIA CEO Kim Day said the risk of someone infected with the virus coming through the airport is low because the only international flight to Asia is to and from Tokyo. 

“Centers for Disease Control has made a decision which airports they think are high risk and they are monitoring them. We are not on that list,” Day said. “Here in Colorado, we have both the state and the city who are focused on health and environment."

She said the airport is prepared and has run through quarantine simulations with other local agencies.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship was quarantined in Japan for coronavirus, where 700 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed. Japan has identified an additional 144 cases.  

In Italy, the BBC reports 400 cases of the virus. Direct flights from DIA to Rome will begin in March. Day said she wouldn't be surprised if there was a dip in those flights. 

She doesn't think the airport will take a hit overall financially because the airport has 500 days of working capital on hand, she said.

“There certainly is a fear that people are going to change their travel plans in the very near future. And obviously that could have an economic impact not only on the airport, but on Colorado completely,” Day said. “We'll all just have to wait and see how long it takes them to get this under control.”

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, President Donald Trump announced that Vice President Mike Pence will lead a task force to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control confirmed the first coronavirus case of unknown origin in the United States late Wednesday evening in Northern California.