While many people are preparing for the worst as fears of COVID-19 grip the nation (and Pima County), a Tucsonan is highlighting the silver lining: cheap travel and hotels deals.
"I'm looking on the bright side of this whole thing going on right now," said local entrepreneur Aric Mussman. "It's like treasure hunting.'
Mussman set up a Facebook page called The Coronavirus Travel Club, dedicated to posting flight and hotel deals across the globe, around 4 p.m. on Wednesday. In less than 24 hours, Mussman's page now has over 400 members and is steadily continuing to grow.
"A lot of my friends travel so there was a lot of people who were posting travel deals but there wasn't a place to post them together," Mussman said during a phone interview from Los Angeles International Airport before boarding a flight to Hawaii. "I figured I would start this group where we could all post the deals we found."
"Deals on flights from Phoenix to New York only $86 round trip", reads one post. Another one boasts round-trip fare to Oahu, Hawaii from Sky Harbor Airport for only $50. Mussman said he's noticing many of the people posting work for airlines and hotels and are encouraging people to travel by offering cheap deals. He believes the travel industry is in survival mode at the moment.
"There's a whole bunch of people who are fearful of coronavirus. Then you have another subset of people who are fearful about losing their jobs because they're in industries that revolve around traveling," Mussman said. "When I checked into my hotel in L.A. last night, the woman at the front desk said there used to be five people checking-in guests. Now she's the only one."
Mussman said the threat of coronavirus (as well as the precautionary measures) is going too far. While he said he doesn't want to minimize the situation because people have compromised immune systems, Mussman doesn't want to be confined to his home unnecessarily.
"I'm 39 years old and I'm in great shape," Mussman said. "I'll be careful around my grandma but in the meantime, why should I be locked in my house?"
Mussman said he already takes precautions to avoid getting sick while he travels, like wiping down his seat and tray with a disinfectant wipe before sitting down and religiously uses hand sanitizer abroad. "It's standard stuff. I don't want to get the flu when I travel, either," he said.
"I'm completely not worried whatsoever about traveling," Mussman said. "There's probably a better chance of me getting (coronavirus) in Tucson than in Hawaii. But if it happens, it happens."
You can check out The Coronavirus Travel Club here