Coronavirus Patient Tries To Board A Flight In Michigan

Last week, the state of Michigan was able to prevent a sick patient from boarding an aircraft in Ingham County and potentially spreading the coronavirus. The traveler tried to fly out of an airport in Lansing on 15th May. However, airport and airline staff were able to prevent the passenger boarding, and the individual agreed to quarantine.

767 in shadow
A passenger was prevented from flying out of Lansing last week after testing positive for coronavirus. Photo: Getty Images

What happened?

A passenger was reported to have attempted to board a flight after testing positive for coronavirus. The unnamed individual was away from home visiting family when he contracted COVID-19. After testing positive, they were keen to get home and disobeyed quarantine restrictions to do so.

The individual had been in contact with health officials who were monitoring their quarantine, but they soon became worried. Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail decided to contact Capital Region International Airport in Lansing on 15th May to inform staff members of the movements of the person in question.

In turn, the staff at the airport contacted the passenger’s airline to prevent them from boarding. Meanwhile, Vail took it upon herself to turn up at the airport to meet the traveler.

Busy airport, passengers with masks
Thankfully, Capital Region International Airport was able to close to undergo cleaning. Photo: Getty Images

A coordinated effort stops the passenger

Thanks to a coordinated effort from health officials, the airport, and airline staff, the passenger was denied boarding. While they were desperate to return to their home, they did eventually agree to complete their quarantine in Ingham County.

Though the passenger peaceably consented not to board the aircraft, the incident was far from over. Thanks to the low passenger traffic at the airport, Capital Region International Airport closed for the rest of the day. The cleaning staff thoroughly sanitized the area, and the airport said the transmission had been “completely contained,” according to the Lansing State Journal.

In the US, health officials keep a keen eye trained on COVID-19 positive patients maintaining frequent contact to ensure they complete their quarantine. Yet, they rarely have to take drastic measures like this. However, they do have a plan for when that happens. Similarly, Capital Region International Airport is also prepared.

Lansing airport entrance
Capital Region International Airport was prepared for a situation like this. Photo: Dj1997 via Wikimedia Commons

Speaking to the Lansing State Journal, Marketing Manager Spencer Flynn said,

“We’ve been ready for this case, or if someone comes through the airport and later found out, they tested positive. We have a plan in place for that as well.”

How are US airports responding to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Most people have been primarily focused on what airlines are doing to keep passengers and employees safe during the coronavirus. Airports are also doing their bit.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has categorized airports at either high- or low-risk. This risk factor predicates how firmly airports must adhere to cleaning and sanitizing measures.

Airport worker cleans face shield
Airports are cleaning touchpoints to prevent COVID transmission. Photo: Getty Images

The main regulations from the authority are that airports should ventilate where they can through opening windows and doors. Additionally, air and surfaces should be disinfected with carefully measured chemical-based cleaning solutions. Front-line staff members are required to wear PPE, and there are specific measures for handling passengers, such as measuring their temperatures. (More recommendations and regulations can be found here.) In addition, individual airports have been complying with social distancing, and some airlines, like Southwest, have protective equipment installed at their ticket counters.

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