A Woman In Her 30s Died From COVID-19 On a Flight—Here’s What We Know So Far
It's unclear whether or not she knew she had COVID-19 at the time of her death.
This story has been updated to reflect the most recent information.
A 38-year-old woman on a Spirit Airlines flight died from COVID-19 while traveling from Las Vegas to Dallas in July, ABC 10 reports.
The passenger, named Wanda Griffin, became unresponsive on the flight, which caused the crew to divert the flight to New Mexico's Albuquerque International Sunport, where first responders tried to resuscitate the woman, but were unsuccessful.
In a statement to ABC 10, a spokesperson from Sunport said there was no mention of the woman having COVID-19, and so the airport treated the incident as any other medical emergency.
The incident occurred on July 25, according to ABC affiliate WFAA, but officials didn't know she had COVID-19 until recently. Original reports of the incident stated that the woman died on a flight from New Mexico to Dallas, just before takeoff, on the tarmac. Only later was it clarified that she died mid-flight, on her way to Dallas from Las Vegas.
A press release dated October 18 from Dallas County Health and Human Services says that the victim, a resident of Garland, Texas, did have an underlying health condition, though no further specifics were given. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told WFAA that it’s unclear whether the victim actually knew she had COVID-19 at the time of her death. “We don’t know a whole lot,” Jenkins told the television station.
Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services Dr. Philip Huang later added that "it sounds like there were some severe underlying health conditions in this particular situation."
Still, "[this is a] reminder that there is no age restriction in COVID," Jenkins told WFAA. The most recent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backs up this point: According to the CDC's latest estimates, of the 203,043 COVID-19-related deaths the agency has information on, 4,119 of those deaths have been in people ages 35-44. Deaths in those 34 years old or younger account for 2,036 of the total deaths involving COVID-19.
In response to the woman's death, Spirit Airlines issued a statement to ABC 10: "We offer sincere condolences to the family and friends of our Guest who passed away."
The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.
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