DOD, United Airlines say masked passengers ‘extremely unlikely’ to catch COVID-19
U.S. Department of Defense and United Airlines conduct study and find the risk of exposure to coronavirus on commercial airlines is ‘virtually nonexistent’; Fox News correspondent Bryan Llenas reports.
United Airlines is reportedly working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to contact any passengers who may have been exposed to a traveler presumably infected with the coronavirus who suffered a medical emergency on a Monday flight and later died.
The deceased passenger, who flew on UA591, was pronounced dead after the aircraft made an emergency landing in New Orleans on Monday. The plane was originally scheduled to fly from Orlando to Los Angeles.
In a statement shared with Fox News on Thursday, United Airlines said the man suffered a "medical emergency" during the flight, but claimed they had no confirmation that the man’s death was "COVID-related."
The following day, however, the airline confirmed to CBS LA that it had, in fact, shared information with the CDC after the agency contacted the carrier.
American Airlines shared information with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after the agency contacted the carrier about the passenger’s death.
"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," a representative for the airline told CBS LA.
The airline also claims to be unaware that the man may have been infected with the novel coronavirus at the time the plane was diverted, but rather that he had suffered a cardiac arrest.
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Earlier in the week, however, passengers on social media had claimed that the deceased passenger’s wife admitted that he felt short of breath, and had also lost his sense of taste and smell prior to boarding. Tony Adalpa, another passenger who recounted the ordeal on Twitter, claims that the man’s wife said he was due for a COVID-19 test in LA, though she "never mentioned he was positive."
On Thursday, Adalpa had also told Fox News that he had not been contacted by United or his local health departments concerning any possible COVID-19 exposure on the flight. On Twitter, Adalpa now claims he himself is "symptomatic" after attempting to perform CPR on the sick passenger last Monday.
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News of the possibly infected deceased passenger comes just as United Airlines announced a partnership with the CDC to implement a contact-tracing program as of Dec. 17, asking passengers to voluntarily provide several key pieces of information in the hopes of speeding up efforts to locate passengers who may have been exposed. The program will start with arriving international passengers, before expanding to all passengers in coming weeks.
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