LOS ANGELES - United Airlines confirmed that COVID-19 played a role in a passenger's death on a flight bound for LAX, according to a report from TMZ.
Coroners in Louisiana identified the deceased passenger as a 69-year-old man from Los Angeles and ruled that the man had died from acute respiratory failure and COVID-19, TMZ reports.
The deceased passenger was aboard UA591 when the aircraft made an emergency landing in New Orleans on Monday, December 14. The plane was originally scheduled to fly from Orlando to Los Angeles.
Prior to TMZ's report Tuesday morning, a representative for United Airlines told FOX 11 in a statement earlier in the week that the passenger suffered a cardiac arrest.
"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 representative for the airline previously said in a statement to FOX 11. "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."
The passenger's death comes just days after United Airlines announced a partnership with the Center of Disease Control and Prevention to implement a contact-tracing program. The program asks passengers to voluntarily provide several key pieces of information in the hopes of speeding up efforts to locate passengers who may have been exposed. The program will start with arriving international passengers, before expanding to all passengers in the coming weeks.