The flight was quickly diverted to New Orleans on December 14, after the man fell ill.
A 69-year-old man who died shortly after crashing on a United flight last week had COVID-19, according to a forensic report published on Tuesday. Jefferson Parish Coroner listed acute respiratory failure and COVID-19 as the cause of death.
United Flight from Orlando, Florida, to Los Angeles declared an emergency and was forced to head to New Orleans on December 14 after the man fell ill. Paramedics transported him to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, the carrier said.
To fly to major US airlines, passengers must confirm that they have not tested positive for coronavirus or experienced COVID-like symptoms in the past 14 days. The passenger filled out the form and said no to both, sources for ABC News say.
According to witnesses, the passenger’s wife told an emergency medical technician that her husband was experiencing symptoms related to COVID, including odor loss and difficulty breathing.
Cameron Roberts was a passenger in flight. He described a chaotic scene in which fellow passengers rushed to help the man in distress.
“They had him on the ground in the middle of the aisle,” Roberts said. “They still did CPR while we touched.”
Roberts and her fiancé said the passengers gave the man chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth, believing he was suffering from cardiac arrest.
Roberts said he is currently in quarantine and took a COVID test.
“It’s sad to see that, you know, they lost a family member,” Roberts said, “but at the same time, it was irresponsible of them to come on the plane.”
United Airlines said it had handed over all passenger information and seating to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The airline said it would not reach individual passengers because it could not provide medical advice, but added that the CDC would contact any passengers who might have been exposed.
On Sunday, the CDC said that “it is in the process of gathering information and proceeding according to our standard operating procedures to determine if additional public health actions are appropriate. To protect the privacy of the individual, we do not provide this information publicly. “
Several passengers on Flight 591 told ABC News that they now have symptoms and have not been contacted by the CDC. The CDC did not answer ABC News’ specific questions about Flight 591 on Tuesday.
The agency said it continues to recommend that postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Sam Sweeney, Darren Reynolds, Alex Stone and Stephanie Ebbs contributed to this report.