Health & Fitness

Passenger Who Fell Ill Mid-Flight Had Coronavirus: Report

A man who died after a United flight from Orlando to L.A. Dec. 14 had coronavirus, reports said. The CDC is contacting passengers.

A man who died on a United flight from Orlando to L.A. Dec. 14 had coronavirus, reports said. The CDC is contacting passengers.
A man who died on a United flight from Orlando to L.A. Dec. 14 had coronavirus, reports said. The CDC is contacting passengers. (Shutterstock)

Updated Tuesday at 6:15 p.m.

ORLANDO, FL — Louisiana officials confirmed that the passenger who died after falling ill on a Dec. 14 United Airlines flight had coronavirus, NBC News reported.

Isaias Hernandez, 69, suffered from acute respiratory failure and COVID-19, according to Jefferson Parish coroners, reports said.

Even before his coronavirus case was confirmed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been working with United to contact passengers on Flight 591 from Orlando to Los Angeles who might have come in contact with the infected traveler, Fox 13 Tampa Bay reported.

The flight was diverted to New Orleans after the man suffered a medical emergency. A nurse and EMT performed CPR on the man, who died later that night at a hospital in Kenner, reports said.

At the time of the diversion, airline staff and passengers were told he had a heart attack, WESH reported. United Airlines also initially denied that the passenger's death was related to COVID-19.

"We can assure you that the medical emergency on your flight was not Covid related. The safety of our customers is our highest priority and the area was properly disinfected," the airline tweeted in response to a concerned passenger Dec. 15.

That passenger, user callmemagen, was quick to call the airline out though, tweeting, "The wife of the man told everyone on board and the staff and nurse that he was covid positive. I was (three) rows away. I heard what was said. The wife stated he was symptomatic for over a week. The nurse and EMT that worked on him told everyone near him to get tested."

Another passenger on the flight, Tony Adalpa, who gave the deceased man CPR, said on Twitter that the man's wife never said her husband had tested positive for COVID-19, just that he was scheduled to be tested when they got to Los Angeles.

Adalpa tweeted on Dec. 19 that he was exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting the results of his second test. He said at that point he hadn't been contacted by the CDC.

A spokeswoman for the airline said the deceased passenger indicated that he didn't have COVID-19-related symptoms prior to the flight, reports said.

After his body was removed from the plane, the flight to California continued, reports said. Passengers were given the option to deplane and take a different flight to Los Angeles, but they all continued on the flight.

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