Fewer people flying

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Travel tanking as COVID-19 spreads across the nation. On Thursday, Rapid City Regional Airport staff said scheduled passengers boarding planes were down 23 percent.

The national numbers from the Transportation Security Agency are even more staggering. Nationally, 2.3 million people went through security on Saturday, March 16, 2019. The same Saturday this year that number dropped to nearly 1.2 million.

"We have made this flight several times and they have always been pretty full. This one is quite empty," said Steve Moran and Lana Cano who are traveling back home from Washington state.

"They said originally there was going to be seven people on the plane and then there ended up being eight people when we left Salt Lake City," They said. "When we left Spokane there were 20 people on a big jet. So hardly any traffic."

Their experienced is echoed by another passenger on another plane.

"The flight from Minneapolis to here was, I think, less than 10," said Anna Marie Anderson.

Anderson is flying back from Florida where she spends the winter.

"The pilot did a nice job and I even took a nap," Anderson said with a smile.

In her 80s, Anderson has seen a lot in her years and wasn't going to let a global pandemic stop her from seeing her family.

"The people that took me to the airport we wanted to make sure I have a mask but I never did use it. It's in here some place," Anderson said pointing to her carry-on.

Since Thursday, major airlines have announced flight cancellations. Southwest Airlines has scrapped more than 130 flights due to the coronavirus.

People seeking information on COVID-19 should make sure it comes from verifiable, accurate sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and the South Dakota Department of Health.