CHICAGO (CBS) — What’s being done to keep Chicagoans safe from the coronavirus?

CBS 2’s Chris Tye has the story from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport where new safety mechanisms are now in place.

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Not much looks or sounds different at the international terminal at O’Hare. But if you look a little closer, and listen a little more intently, it’s all people are talking about, and the changes are there.


Taziah Kennebrew-Booker is on the front line of this fight armed with masks.

“Yes, they gave us a handful yesterday,” Kennebrew-Booker said.

She’s assisting O’Hare’s international passengers needing help as they exit flights. Staffers like her have been equipped and educated on the new risks.

“They gave us hand sanitizer too,” she said.

Heightened alert as O’Hare steps up and widens out its efforts to keep employees, passengers and Chicagoans safe.

“CDC team is actively arriving and here now to assist with the investigation,” said Dr. Allison Arwady of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Despite a halting of flights from the virus’ epicenter of Wuhan, China, screening stations like those seen at airports around the world continue at O’Hare.

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Occurring just behind the international arriving doors near baggage pickup.

The plane that carried that sick passenger to O’Hare is not being isolated or put in for a deep clean. Officials said because at the time she flew on it, she was not contagious.

The airline in question is not being revealed. But some passengers on that plane are being tested at the request of the CDC on a case-by-case basis.

Safeguards that make workers like Kennebrew-Booker feel safe, while remaining on heightened alert.

“You never know. It could be a common cold or a virus.”

There is a full court press between the Centers for Disease Control, the Illinois Department of Health and the Chicago Department of Public Health as well as the Chicago Department of Aviation.

They said they’ve been ready for what’s been thrown their way and ready for more if it emerges.

Typically coronavirus symptoms are similar to a respiratory infection and can include a running nose, cough and fever.

But for people with a weakened immune system, the virus can progress quickly to a more serious pneumonia-like illness with shortness of breath and trouble breathing.

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Doctors said people can do the same things done to prevent the flu: wash your hands often with soap and water and avoid close contact with people who are sick.