When health officials couldn't reach a mother to inform her that her son tested positive for COVID-19, authorities coordinated efforts to prevent them from boarding a flight to Puerto Rico.
At about 3 p.m. local time on Tuesday, Nov. 24, local health officials told the Maryland State Police department that a boy, 9, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus but they couldn't deliver the diagnosis to his mother, so the family was still planning to travel on a flight later that day, PEOPLE confirms.
The flight was scheduled to depart the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport at 4:15 p.m.
“State police immediately reached out and contacted the Maryland Transportation Authority Police at BWI,” a spokesperson for the police said, according to WTTG. “We gave them the names of the individuals and the only information we had was that they were departing for Puerto Rico at 4:15 p.m and to begin to look for them.”
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The police then obtained legal quarantine order documents, CNN reports, and authorities at the airport found the mother and son by 3:45 p.m.
Police said the entire coordinated operation happened in "under an hour" and the child "never got on the plane" so "no significant exposure there or anything like that."
“We have each other on speed dial,” the police spokesperson said, per WTTG, explaining that they need to be "able to take this swift of an action from 3:00 of us receiving the call to 3:45 p.m. of locating these individuals at the airport and having them stopped before anybody else was exposed to COVID.”
Police added that the mother, who was not identified, is thought to have not known about her son's illness and would have unwittingly traveled. The son will now quarantine, as will the mom since she was exposed.
“Once a person has been issued that legal isolation or quarantine order, if they don’t abide by it then the state police has a specialty team that will go and take that person into custody,” said the police spokesperson.
Due to the airborne transmission of COVID-19 and case spikes across the country, the CDC advises against indoor gatherings of large groups, and recommends six feet of distance and face coverings at all times.
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