JetBlue passenger with coronavirus on Florida-bound flight banned by airline

He learned of the positive COVID-19 diagnosis shortly before takeoff

JetBlue has banned a passenger who tested positive for coronavirus and still flew from New York City to Palm Beach, Florida, the airline said Friday.

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In a statement to NBC New York, the airline said: "Last night’s event put our crewmembers, customers, and federal and local officials in an unsettling situation that could have easily been avoided, and as such, this customer will not be permitted to fly on JetBlue in the future."

The airline said it has sanitized the plane and common areas in the terminals at JFK and West Palm Beach airports, according to the news outlet.

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JetBlue also asked passengers not to travel if they aren't feeling well.

"Consistent with CDC guidance, we ask all customers who are not feeling well, who believe they may have coronavirus, or who are awaiting test results to avoid travel until they are cleared by a medical professional," the airline said.

The passenger learned of his positive coronavirus diagnosis “right before takeoff,” prompting the plane to be held on the tarmac as officials in Tyvek suits scoured the plane and notified passengers, according to a local report.

The man and his wife were traveling on Flight 253 to Palm Beach International Airport on Wednesday evening when he “got a text that he tested positive for the coronavirus," Dr. Alina Alonso told the other passengers at the airport, the health director in Palm Beach County told WPTV. "He has not been coughing or sneezing or anything on the plane.”

She reportedly told them: “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."

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Airport officials are sterilizing the area where passengers deplaned, which, according to the outlet, was separate from the airport terminals open to the general public.

Spokespersons for JetBlue and the Florida Depart of Health’s Palm Beach office did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.

Fellow traveler Scott Rodman told the outlet the stranger was sitting across from him when he “was taken to the back of the plane.”

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"He was wearing masks and gloves,” Rodman told the outlet. “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."

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Local authorities were first notified of the matter at 8:40 a.m.

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When the flight landed in Palm Beach shortly before 9 a.m., the plane was kept on the tarmac and travelers were told to stay on board for nearly two hours, until 10:45 p.m., according to the report. Those sitting nearby were given instructions for procedures moving forward.

JetBlue’s CEO Robin Hayes previously told "CBS This Morning" COVID-19 has had a “devastating” impact of airline traffic, starting around Feb. 25.

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JetBlue told customers Tuesday it would be waiving change and cancellation fees through April 30. The airline also recently announced certain flights were on sale if booked by March 12.