A Michigan airport barred an out-of-town visitor from boarding a flight to return home last week after learning that the passenger had recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The Capital Region International Airport in Lansing was alerted by the Ingham County Health Department on May 15 that a person with COVID-19 was possibly planning to board a flight and ignore health orders to quarantine, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said that she obtained a cease-and-desist order to block the passenger from boarding the flight, and even went to the airport herself to make sure the infected person went home to quarantine.
“We can’t have people hopping on planes that are known positive with COVID-19," Vail told the outlet. "We just can’t."
The passenger told health officials that they wanted to fly home after visiting family in Ingham County and testing positive for COVID-19.
“It was like, 'No you can’t,' ” Vail recalled saying.
Health officials who stayed in contact with the individual surmised that the person was possibly going to the airport, prompting Vail to notify airport staff immediately.
Spencer Flynn, the airport's marketing manager, told the Press that airport staff called the airline and located the individual before they reached the security checkpoint.
“We let them know what the health department told us,” Flynn shared. “The subject voluntarily left.”
Vail explained that after a person tests positive for the virus, the health department staff is to stay in contact with the patient to ensure that they are following quarantine orders.
If staff members becomes suspicious that an individual is going against regulations, they are allowed to issue cease-and-desist warnings, and to involve law enforcement.
But Vail said that they "don't generally" take such serious measures.
“This is the first case we’ve had to step in,” Flynn explained, noting that the airport does not have the authority to determine if a passenger is allowed to fly.
Following the incident, the passenger area was sectioned off and properly sanitized.
“We’ve been ready for this case, or if someone comes through airport and later found out they tested positive,” Flynn added. “We have a plan in place for that as well.”
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