JetBlue plane flew from New York to Florida with passenger who tested positive for COVID-19

Plane sat on tarmac for nearly 2 hours while officials responded
Posted at 4:47 AM, Mar 12, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A passenger aboard a JetBlue flight arrived at Palm Beach International Airport (PBIA) as a positive coronavirus case, Palm Beach Fire Rescue (PBFR) said early Thursday morning.

Flight 253 from New York JFK landed in Palm Beach at 8:53 p.m. local time, but the plane remained on the tarmac instead of proceeding to gate C12. Passengers departed the aircraft around 10:45 p.m.

"The person across the way from me was taken to the back of the plane. 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," said passenger Scott Rodman.

PBFR said the State Health Department in Palm Beach County completed its assessment of the situation and spoken with all passengers aboard the flight.

In addition, passengers in the vicinity of the unidentified COVID-19 positive patient were advised of monitoring procedures.

Remaining passengers were released and given directions by Dr. Alina Alonso, the health director in Palm Beach County, to call the health department with any concerns.

PBIA is sterilizing the limited-containment area where the passengers deplaned, which was a separate location from the main terminals of the airport.

PBFR said crews first responded to a medical incident aboard the plane at 8:40 p.m.

According to an initial email from PBFR, "at this time all is under control and the Palm Beach County Health Department is on location evaluating the situation."

JetBlue and the Health Department in Palm Beach County have not yet responded to a request for comment.

This story was originally published by Stephanie Susskind and Allen Cone on WPTV in Palm Beach, Florida.