Paul Frishkorn, a longtime American Airlines flight attendant, died Monday after contracting the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Earlier this week, we lost a respected, longtime member of the American Airlines family, who tested positive for COVID-19,” the airline said in a statement Friday. “Our hearts go out to Paul’s loved ones, many of whom work for American.”
According to the airline, Frishkorn was 65 years old and had other health issues that made him susceptible to complications from the respiratory illness.
The Philadelphia-based flight attendant first began working for the company in 1997 and was a respected team member.
“Over the years he built a reputation as a consummate professional who was honored as one of American’s Flight Service Champions twice for his excellent service to our customers,” the airline’s statement read.
Frishkorn was also an active member of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA).
APFA president Lori Bassani wrote in an in memoriam post on the organization’s website that “this loss hits home in a very different, personal way from the headlines.”
She also shared that Frishkorn was “the first American team member to lose his life after contracting the illness.”
As of the morning of March 27, there have been at least 85,381 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and 1,271 deaths. The U.S. now has the highest number of cases worldwide.
Though China, Italy and several other nations with high case totals have enforced full lockdowns on citizens, President Trump has declined to do so in the U.S. Instead, many states, counties and cities have chosen to implement “stay at home” orders, limiting residents with non-essential jobs from leaving their homes, except for groceries and other vital tasks.
The CDC also says that the best prevention methods are basic forms of hygiene — careful handwashing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.
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