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United passenger dies with COVID-like symptoms after plane diverts to MSY, CDC working to determine exposure

According to an airline official, the patient's wife was overheard telling EMTs that her husband had symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19.

NEW ORLEANS — A passenger for a United Airlines flight from Orlando to Los Angeles reportedly died at a hospital after the plane was diverted to New Orleans for a medical emergency on Monday.

According to a USA Today report, the airline said the passenger of United flight 591 had COVID-19 symptoms but did not confirm if he was COVID-19 positive or if the virus caused his death.

In a statement, the airline said that it had been contacted by the Centers for Disease Control about the incident for possible contact tracing.

A spokesperson for United told WWL-TV that the flight diverted after the passenger suffered what appeared to be cardiac arrest -- a heart attack -- mid-flight. 

According to an airline official, the patient's wife was overheard telling EMTs that her husband had symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19, including loss of taste and smell.

But a COVID-19 diagnosis has not been confirmed, and the man's cause of death has not been released.

The passenger was taken off the plane, and other passengers were given the option to continue or to take a later flight. None took the later flight. 

United fliers are required to take a short survey before checking in to their flight to make sure they don't have COVID-19 symptoms. 

The passenger may have filled out incorrect information on that survey. 

Frontier is the only domestic airline in the U.S. to require temperature checks before boarding. All other major airlines rely on the honor system when filling out the pre-check-in survey. 

The passenger's name has not been released. He is not believed to have ties to the New Orleans area, and the plane only stopped at MSY because of the medical emergency. 

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