A passenger who boarded a JetBlue flight to Florida from New York has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, and he found out just before the plane departed. ABC News reports that the man flew on JetBlue flight 253 from JFK Airport to Palm Beach International Airport, and he allegedly received a phone call about his test results prior to takeoff.
"The person across the way from me was taken to the back of the plane," one passenger told WPTV. "He was wearing masks and gloves. His wife was sitting in the same row as me and mentioned to others that he wasn’t feeling well... She said he had gotten a phone call with his test results right before we had taken off, implying that he had a positive test but not actually saying it."
When the plane landed in Florida, it was kept on the tarmac for around two hours as the crew and the 114 passengers on board spoke with health officials. Passengers on the flight were allowed to leave the airport without consulting a doctor, but they were warned to monitor for any possible symptoms of the virus. The plane was emptied in a containment area away from the main airport terminal, and crews began sterilizing said area. Passengers were told they don't need to self-quarantine.
"The Port Authority was informed late on Wednesday that a passenger on JetBlue's Flight 254 departing from JFK's Terminal 5 to West Palm Beach earlier that evening alerted the crew upon landing that he'd received notification confirming a positive test of COVID-19," the Port Authority said in a statement. "JetBlue immediately commenced additional cleaning of the Gate 7 area, where the flight departed, as well as surrounding gates, the security checkpoints, check-in counters and kiosks, elevators, restrooms and any other area the passenger went through based on security camera footage. This is on top of the enhanced cleaning protocols that have been in have been in place at JFK Airport. These protocols include at least twice daily sanitization of all common and high-touchpoint areas with EPA-approved and CDC-endorsed antiviral disinfectants, in addition to overnight deep cleaning of all terminal areas."
As of Thursday, there are a total of 1,396 cases of COVID-19 in the United States, while 39 deaths have been reported.