United Airlines is working with the CDC to track passengers on an Orlando flight to LA after a man with COVID symptoms died on the plane.
The man filled out a preflight checklist stating he was not not positive for COVID and did not have any symptoms, allowing him to board.
A UA spokesperson told BuzzFeed News he,
“wrongly acknowledged this requirement.”
The family of the man confirmed that he had preexisting conditions, including high blood pressure and upper respiratory issues, and he was feeling sick in the days leading up to his flight to LA.
The plane was diverted to New Orleans, and paramedics transported the man to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The man’s wife was overheard telling an EMT that he had COVID-related symptoms, including the loss of taste and smell but a COVID diagnosis was not confirmed at the time.
“Now that the CDC has contacted us directly, we are sharing requested information with the agency so they can work with local health officials to conduct outreach to any customer the CDC believes may be at risk for possible exposure or infection.”
The CDC said it is collecting information about the incident
“to determine if further public health action is appropriate.”
At least two passengers on board tweeted about the incident. Passenger Shay Allen, said,
“Before I sat in my seat, walking through the aisle you could see he was having a hard time breathing…”
The airline did not check passengers’ temperatures before boarding, she said. Medical personnel on the flight tried to revive the man before the plane touched down in New Orleans.
United did not change planes despite the potential exposure to the virus.
“At the time of the diversion, we were informed he had suffered a cardiac arrest, so passengers were given the option to take a later flight or continue on with their travel plans.”
California, which is currently experiencing an huge surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations, recommends a 14-day quarantine period for travelers from out of state but how the city enforces the quarantine is not clear.
The man’s identity has not been released.
This is not the first time a COVID-related death has occurred on a plane. In July, a woman in her thirties died of COVID-19 during a flight from Texas to New Mexico.
The man behind me on this flight. DIED. OF COVID. MIDFLIGHT.— Jo LaFlame (@jobreauxx) December 15, 2020
I have so many questions.
(Photo, UA; via BuzzFeed News)