Passenger who arrived at Palm Beach International tests positive for coronavirus, fire rescue says

Remaining passengers released
Posted at 6:07 AM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 08:54:53-04

By: Stephanie Susskind , Allen ConeWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A passenger aboard a JetBlue flight arrived at Palm Beach International Airport as a positive coronavirus case, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue said early Thursday.

JetBlue flight 253 landed at 8:53 p.m. from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, but the airplane remained on the tarmac instead of proceeding to gate C12. Passengers departed the aircraft about 10:45 p.m.


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

In an updated email to WPTV NewsChannel 5, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Capt. Albert Borroto said the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County completed its assessment of the situation and spoke 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.

"An individual on this flight got a text that he tested positive for the coronavirus," Alonso told passengers at the airport. "He has not been coughing or sneezing or anything on the plane. ... At this point, you're free to walk around and move around because, most likely, you're not going to have anything because there was no activity. The way you get this virus is somebody has to cough or sneeze on you."

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

Coronavirus in Florida: COVID-19 cases, locations and updates across the Sunshine State

Borroto said rescuers were initially called to a medical incident aboard the plane at 8:40 p.m.

WPTV contacted JetBlue and the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County but didn't receive a response.

This story was originally published for WPTV