What happened

Shares of TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP) fell more than 7% on Thursday morning on fresh concerns about the reach of the coronavirus and its impact on travel. The shares made up much of that decline as the morning went on, but investors should expect continued volatility as the outbreak story plays out.

So what

Markets pushed lower on Thursday after the first case of coronavirus in the U.S. believed to come from community spreading was reported in California. The patient had no connection to an existing coronavirus hot spot but did live near an air force base being used to quarantine people who might have been exposed to the virus.

A traveler on an airplane with a facemask on.

Image source: Getty Images.

The case, if confirmed, will mark a new milestone in the spread of coronavirus in the United States, and could raise the level of anxiety among U.S. consumers. The headlines are coming at a bad time for airline stocks and other companies like TripAdvisor with links to the industry, as this is typically when consumers are booking spring break and summer vacation travel.

For TripAdvisor, a company that is already struggling to grow, the coronavirus outbreak is yet another headwind.

Now what

The outbreak is sure to affect travel stocks and their vendors. The questions are how much and for how long.

TripAdvisor is in a competitive dogfight with Alphabet and other rivals. A slowdown in travel is only going to make matters worse. It's hard to blame investors for heading for the exits until there is more clarity about the overall travel environment and about TripAdvisor's place in that environment.

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