A retired Manhattan surgeon spread the coronavirus while flying to Los Angeles in mid-March – but no one tried to warn passengers or crew at risk of catching the disease.
The 69-year-old man was released from a hospital in the infected Big Apple when he left the March 19 JFK while moving to a Los dementia care facility, Los Angeles Times reported.
A day after the American Airlines flight, the surgeon ran from the facility to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with 101.9 degrees of fever and cough. He then tested positive for COVID-19.
According to the Times newspaper, none of the other 49 passengers or eight crew members on the flight were made aware of the results. Although this enables local public health officials to investigate every case of the virus and monitor contact to prevent spreading.
The airline was reported to have recently learned the case from The Times.
The virus has also spread to 32-year-old nurse Brittany Bruner-Ringo and other people at the Silverado Beverly Place supported living facility where a dozen people later died.
The three employees told the newspaper that when he came home from LAX, he was not quarantined.
Nurse Bruner-Ringo, who was appointed to welcome him, later told his mother, sister and colleague that he had a fever and cough when the man came. The facility refused this and showed that the medical records prepared by the nurse had no symptoms.
Times said that he did not give the man’s name because his mental competence was uncertain.
It took 11 days for the LA district health department to learn about the man’s diagnosis of COVID-19, at which point “the contact information provided for the individual was missing and the researcher was unable to conduct an interview.”
According to the Times, viewers of contact with the health department closed the case 14 days after they were unable to reach the surgeon for the interview.
Los Angeles health officials never warned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the flight, so contact tracking could be started, CDC Times told the newspaper.
“Any delay in contact with exposed people will increase the likelihood of disease spread,” said the CDC spokesman.