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JetBlue passenger on flight from JFK arrives in Palm Beach as positive coronavirus case: officials

Posted at 5:56 AM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 18:20:34-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A passenger aboard a JetBlue flight from New York's Kennedy Airport arrived at Palm Beach International Airport as a positive coronavirus case, Palm Beach Fire Rescue said early Thursday morning.

Flight 253 landed at 8:53 p.m. from JFK, but the plane remained on the tarmac instead of proceeding to gate C12. Passengers departed the aircraft around 10:45 p.m., according to PIX11 sister station WPTV.

"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," passenger Scott Rodman told WPTV.

In an updated email to WPTV, 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."

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In a statement, JetBlue said the health and safety of their customers and crewmembers are top priority.

"The health and safety of our customers and crewmembers is our top priority. We’re asking customers who do not feel well or are concerned they may have coronavirus to not fly until cleared to travel by a doctor or health professional. JetBlue is currently waiving change and cancellation fees to allow customers the opportunity to change or pause their travel plans should they need to.

In last night’s case, our crewmembers did an incredible job coordinating with health authorities. After health officials allowed customers to disembark, we conducted a thorough sanitizing of the aircraft according to CDC guidance. We have also sanitized common areas in both airport terminals involved. We will continue to coordinate closely with health officials and provide them any additional information required."