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Texas Confirms COVID-19 Death Aboard Aircraft

Texas Confirms COVID-19 Death Aboard Aircraft
Joe Cortez

 A woman in her 30’s from the Dallas, Texas region was one of the few fatalities to take place aboard an aircraft, according to new information from the county. The woman was given oxygen aboard the flight after experience difficulty breathing, but ultimately succumbed to the infection.

A flyer aboard a commercial flight from Arizona to Dallas, Texas was confirmed to have passed away from COVID-19 earlier this summer, but it’s unclear if she passed the virus to other passengers aboard the aircraft. In a press release, officials from Dallas County, Texas announced the flyer’s death from July 2020.

Woman Previously Contracted COVID-19, Flying with Underlying Health Risks

According to the text of the release, the deceased was only identified as: “A woman in her 30’s who was a resident of the City of Garland.” County officials did not disclose what airline she was aboard, or her exact age due to privacy concerns. They did say that the woman “did have underlying high-risk health conditions.”

In comments to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, judge Clay Jenkins confirmed that the woman passed away while the aircraft was parked on a taxiway at a New Mexico airport. According to his account, the woman experienced difficulty breathing and was given oxygen by flight attendants.

The tragic case leaves more questions than answers about how COVID-19 cases are being treated aboard the airlines. The judge did not disclose if passengers around the deceased flyer were tested for COVID-19 afterwards, or if face masks were in use for all flyers. Unless there is additional contact tracing, it’s unknown how many more people may have been exposed to the virus from that incident.

Although there are only 44 confirmed novel Coronavirus infections from flight exposure, this case could be the only one where someone has actually died from the virus while onboard a flight. Under federal law, airlines are required to report deaths aboard aircraft to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Death Announced as CDC Forwards New Guidelines

The woman’s death was made public as the CDC introduced new guidelines for all travelers, including those flying aboard a commercial aircraft. The agency is now issuing a “strong recommendation for wearing of masks by passengers on and operators of conveyances to prevent spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Yet, the U.S. Department of Transportation remains neutral on creating a face covering or social distancing mandate, deferring the issue to airlines – despite previous concerns from the CDC’s top doctors. Earlier in the summer of 2020, the DOT denied a petition to require face coverings on all forms of transportation, saying “there should be no more regulations than necessary.”

View Comments (16)


  1. vargha

    October 21, 2020 at 4:13 am

    Here’s what I get out of this. If you’re overweight (guessing on this one) and have the associated health issues that come with it, COVID-19 is a concern. If you’re under 65-70 and in reasonable health, COVID is as much of a risk as a lot of other things that normal folks don’t worry about on a daily basis.

  2. bchandler02

    October 21, 2020 at 5:36 am

    So she was ill enough to pass away on a flight (a matter of a few hours) – but was still in public and flying, vs. staying at home in quarantine. Where’s the outrage over this?

  3. MitchR

    October 21, 2020 at 6:20 am

    No mention that she weighed 350 lbs, had underlying conditions, and was clearly symptomatic and ill but boarded the flight anyway. Apparently, even though she was ill in Phoenix, and died in New Mexico, it is being reported as a death in Dallas County, Texas. This is why the public has a hard time trusting the reporting on COVID.

  4. Podcat

    October 21, 2020 at 6:39 am

    How did she even get aboard with symptoms like that?
    Nice screening job.

  5. TGarza

    October 21, 2020 at 9:05 am

    She had been in Arizona the 3 weeks prior to her death but the Dallas County press release tried to make this death as recent when it was 3 months prior.

  6. Counsellor

    October 21, 2020 at 10:41 am

    I don’t see how “privacy concerns” prevent disclosing what airline she was “screened” by and allowed to board. Indeed, that sounds like information the public would be legitimately interested in.

    (I can see how the airline would like to cover up its involvement, but that is not a legitimate reason to hide the information.)

  7. Aloha1

    October 21, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Would be nice if they told us what airline

  8. jjmoore

    October 21, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    Whether or not people wore masks on the flight or not will have no impact on the spread of the virus. The people sitting closest to her (within 6-10 feet or so) should be the only ones on the flight that should watch for symptoms. It doesn’t matter if those people were wearing masks or not… if the virus crossed their paths, it would have entered through their eyes and caused an infection.

    When will this ridiculous mask dispute be debunked once and for all?!!!?!?!?! I can’t believe that the country is still bought into mask-wearing as a measure that prevents the spread of the virus. It doesn’t. I wish someone could prove me otherwise with research data from a reputable source (not CDC, WHO, as these have proven their irrelevance).

    Trump will win, and then there need to be executive measures to lift any and all of the ridiculous, destructive restrictions that are still imposed at that time.

    Time to get back to normal, folks. Anyone that is scared and doesn’t want to participate in American Exceptionalism – please… by all means…. stay hidden and don’t disturb the rest of us that need to get back to normal.

  9. Adam1

    October 21, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    No. No one of relevance has ever said that wearing a mask “Prevents the spread” of the virus.
    Thats the message that gets shared when people start playing ‘chinese whispers’.

    Masks do not “prevent” the spread of the virus – but they certainly do ‘reduce/limit the chances’ of spreading the virus.

  10. tkelvin69

    October 21, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    jjmoore – go back to Fox News. Every, every, EVERY reputable health care worker, institution, research center, infectious disease specialist, as well as demonstrated in countries that have COVID under control, know masks are essential and effective.

    Your science is as poor as your understanding of laws pertaining to the rights of local and state jurisdictions.


  11. OZFLYER86

    October 21, 2020 at 6:33 pm

    no big deal.

    Someone died today.

    Looked up deaths in USA in 2019. There were 2.8 million apparently, if you can believe anything on the internet..

    People die, in fact everyone dies.

    How many attributed to corona & how many died last year of the flu.

    Get it in perspective.

  12. jjmoore

    October 21, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    @tkelvin69 There are a couple characteristics of a liberal losing an argument. 1 – They resort to name calling. 2 – They refuse to reference factual information to contradict the argument at hand (because there isn’t any in this case). I recommend you go do some research. See you back here when you find nothing to support your claim and are forced to admit that I am right.

  13. tkelvin69

    October 22, 2020 at 7:53 am

    jjmoore – During your surgery ask all the staff not to use masks. See how that works for you. Try reading JAMA, the Lancet, and CDC/WHO articles. Lots of free online medical dictionaries to help sort out what you don’t understand.

    The characteristic of someone who can’t argue is they use trump as a reference.

  14. hervepa

    October 22, 2020 at 8:56 am

    Moderators need to to delete anti-science stuff in this thread from
    JJMoore, vargha, and OZFLYER86

  15. jjmoore

    October 23, 2020 at 11:54 am

    @hervepa Sounds like you support censorship and Soviet Pravda tactics. Thanks for revealing who you really are.

  16. aabowman

    October 26, 2020 at 2:07 am

    Why do stupid people like to make anything related to COVID political? It doesn’t matter who will win or lose the election, COVID will not be gone in the next 4 months. If people would listen to the SCIENCE, they would wear masks. Delta got it right – they announced today that so far they have added almost 500 people to their no-fly list due to refusing to wear a mask on a flight. Those of you who don’t think a mask is necessary, please stay away from Delta! I will be wearing an N95 mask on any flight I board, whether it is required or not… mainly because I’m an educated guy who used to work in a hospital around people with respiratory diseases.

    So all we know for sure is that this death occurred on a plane and it is unknown if face masks were required. It seems to me that at least the airline name should be provided to the public – the fact that the death was recorded in Dallas and they didn’t disclose the airline makes me suspect it may have been Southwest (they’re protecting their own).

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