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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minneapolis woman’s son flew on an airplane and found out soon after that he was positive for COVID-19. When she tried to alert the airline, she was surprised at the company’s response.

“I finally got through to somebody and told them my son had flown on flight 412 and that he was COVID positive,” Robin Sande said.

Her son was driving a friend back to college in Denver. When they arrived on campus,the university was offering free tests. The men took the tests mostly for fun and out of curiosity especially, because it was affordable and easily accessible. A positive result was not expected.

Two days later, when Sande’s son was back in Minneapolis, he got word of the positive result. It prompted Sande to call Frontier Airlines.

“She said that we can’t call every passenger and I said ‘well don’t you have the emails couldn’t you email them?’ and she said no we can’t do that either,” Sande said.

She was disappointed and surprised by the airline’s reaction, which raises the question of whose job is it to notify the passengers who flew with an infected person?

“I think it is a responsibility of the airline or a restaurant, whoever it might be to notify employees. I mean the flight attendants and the pilots and to notify those that sit around them,” Sande said.

Frontier Airlines says it follows CDC guidance for passenger notification saying “health authorities would handle subsequent outreach to specific individuals if/as they deem necessary.”

But the reality is most airlines won’t contact you if someone on your flight was sick. It will be local health officials or the CDC.

Like Frontier, Delta and American also told us, per CDC guidance, that they direct customers like Robin to call local health authorities.

Often times, the CDC actually notifies local health officials about a known case on a plane.

Those officials then contact the people two rows in front of and behind the infected passenger.

But Sande says, it’s not enough.

“How are we going to stop this spread if we aren’t addressing it on the front end?” Sande said.

The CDC says if you are infected and flew recently, call your doctor or local health officials. MDH has a hotline.

Erin Hassanzadeh

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