Man Who Didn't Disclose COVID-19 Symptoms Has Heart Attack Mid-Flight and Later Dies in Hospital

A man who didn't disclose that he was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms before boarding a United plane from Orlando to Los Angeles is now dead after suffering a medical emergency mid-flight, PEOPLE confirms.

The incident occurred on Monday night when Flight 591 was flying from Orlando to Los Angeles. The plane was diverted to New Orleans when a man on board suffered what flight crew members believed at the time was a cardiac arrest, according to United Airlines.

United Airlines said on Friday that they are now working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after the agency requested a passenger manifest of the flight after the man, who died at a hospital in New Orleans, was reported to have shown coronavirus-related symptoms prior to travel.

At the time, the flight had continued to L.A. after the airline decided that an aircraft change was not warranted due to the nature of the medical emergency, according to United. The airline said that all passengers chose to stay onboard the plane to L.A. after its diversion.

"At the time of the diversion, we were informed he had suffered a cardiac arrest, so passengers were given the option to take a later flight or continue on with their travel plans," a spokesperson for United said in a statement. "Now that the CDC has contacted us directly, we are sharing requested information with the agency so they can work with local health officials to conduct outreach to any customer the CDC believes may be at risk for possible exposure or infection."

PEOPLE has learned that the man filled out a required checklist before the flight, stating he had not been diagnosed with COVID-19 and did not have symptoms, but his wife was overheard telling paramedics that her husband showed coronavirus-related symptoms such as loss of taste and smell.

The passenger also suffered from pre-existing conditions, including high-blood pressure and upper respiratory issues, and was feeling sick leading up to the day of travel, PEOPLE has learned.

The incident was documented in a series of tweets by a passenger, model Jordan Pope, who said that the wife of the deceased man "confirmed a positive test when talking to EMTs."

Pope also tweeted that she believed the person had died on the flight, though the airline has since said he was "pronounced dead" at the hospital.

"The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have various policies and procedures in place such as mask mandates and requiring customers to complete a ‘Ready-to-Fly’ checklist before the flight acknowledging they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days and do not have COVID-related symptoms," a spokesperson for United said in a statement on Friday.

Four flight attendants who worked on United Flight 591 began a 14-day quarantine when they landed at Los Angeles International Airport, according to Taylor Garland, a spokesperson for Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents flight attendants at 17 airlines including United.

"Our union continues to provide support to the crew," Garland said in a statement. "We urge passengers to comply with airline COVID policies and stay home if you're sick."

As of Friday, there have been more than 17,401,700 COVID-19 cases and 312,500 deaths from coronavirus-related illnesses in the United States, according to a New York Times database.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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