When a United Airlines flight from Orlando to Los Angeles diverted to New Orleans Monday night for a COVID medical emergency, a passenger on the flight live tweeted the drama and claimed the passenger died of COVID-19 after overhearing comments from his wife.
The flight continued on to Los Angeles on the same plane.
United officials at the time said only that United flight 591 diverted for a medical emergency and that the passenger was taken to a hospital. Local news reports mentioned cardiac arrest.
On Friday, United officials confirmed the passenger, who it said died at the hospital, had COVID-19 symptoms but did not confirm he was COVID-19 positive or that that was his cause of death. The airline said in a statement that it has been contacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the incident, which suggests a positive COVID-19 case. CDC officials have not responded to requests about the case.
“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,” the statement, provided by United spokesman Charles Hobart, said.
“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.
Just one U.S. airline, Frontier, checks passengers’ temperatures before boarding.
A woman in her 30s died from COVID-19 while on a Spirit Airlines flight in July, according to airport officials in Albuquerque, New Mexico.