HOUSTON, March 10, 2020 – The world is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, including in the United States.
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to impact airports and travel, Houston Airports (HAS) remains committed to vigorous cleaning protocols that comply with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, as well as maintaining close contact with the CDC, the City of Houston Health Department, and various entities germane to the combatting of the coronavirus.
HAS is extremely vigilant regarding cleaning. At IAH and HOU, custodial services use hospital grade disinfectants to wipe down surfaces and touchpoints at all terminals. Additionally, hand sanitizing stations and hand soap dispensers are kept stocked and are readily accessible to passengers and staff.
Passengers and employees are encouraged to practice healthy hygiene habits such as washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth, and staying home if sick.
To further spread the message, an audio message is playing on the PA system at both airports, provided and recorded by the CDC. It contains health recommendations to help avoid the spread of respiratory viruses, including the one that causes COVID-19. In conjunction with the Houston Health Department, HAS is running a Public Service Announcement that plays regularly on all airport TVs. This same preventative messaging is also displayed on all airport information screens and at other locations within the terminals.
More specifically, HAS cleaning protocol includes:
- We have more than doubled our cleaning and disinfecting efforts at all terminals.
- There is ongoing cleaning and disinfecting of all touchpoints in restrooms, using a CDC-recommended and EPA-approved cleaning agent.
- Hand sanitizer (62% alcohol) stations are available and monitored and refilled on an ongoing basis.
- Airline gate areas are cleaned after the last flight, as well as routinely throughout the day.
- Cleaning staff wear disposable medical gloves.
- Contractors working as wheelchair attendants have been provided disinfectant spray to sanitize the wheelchair touchpoints throughout the day. At night they spray and wipe down the entire chair so it is ready for use the next day.
HAS strongly encourages the public to follow the preventative messages advocated by the CDC, such as thorough and frequent hand washing, avoiding contact with anyone who is sick and covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
Many of the HAS airline partners have also provided information for travelers, and a partial listing is shared below:
AeroMexico British Airways Spirit Airlines
Air Canada Delta Air Lines Turkish Airlines
Alaska Airlines Emirates United Airlines
American Airlines Ethiopian Airlines WestJet
Air New Zealand Frontier Airlines
All Nippon Airways Lufthansa
Avianca Southwest Airlines
The Houston Health Department opened a coronavirus disease call center on Monday, March 9, for Houston residents needing more information about COVID-19. Houstonians can call the center at 832.393.4220 to speak with department staff and get questions answered. The call center is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They answer in English and Spanish.
For additional references, HAS encourages travelers, as well as the general public to review information from the following sources:
- Houston Health Department updates on COVID-19 https://houstonemergency.org/covid19/
- Information for Travelers www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
- Frequently Asked Questions & Answers www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
- Guidance for Airlines and Airline Crew: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/air/index.html
- Harris County Public Health http://publichealth.harriscountytx.gov/Resources/2019-Novel-Coronavirus
Houston Airports continues to best serve the public by staying focused on our mission-connecting people, businesses, cultures and economies of the world to Houston.
About Houston Airport System
Houston Airports is the City of Houston’s Department of Aviation. Comprised of George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD) / Houston Spaceport, Houston Airports served nearly 60 million passengers in 2019. Houston Airports form one of North America's largest public airport systems and position Houston as the international passenger and cargo gateway to the South Central United States and a primary gateway to Latin America. Houston is proud to be the only city in the Western Hemisphere with two Skytrax rated 4-star airports. Learn more at fly2houston.com.