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Passenger seen performing CPR on man who died from COVID-19 on plane

New video footage has emerged showing passengers desperately trying to save the life of a man who died of COVID-19 on a United Airlines flight last week, as they reveal they are yet to be contacted by health officials nine days after the ordeal.

Isaias Hernandez, 69, died of coronavirus and acute respiratory failure on December 14, while traveling to LA from Orlando on UA flight 591, a coroner confirmed on Tuesday. 

Hernandez, who was from Los Angeles, went into cardiac arrest mid flight and died in a Louisiana hospital after the plane made an emergency landing in New Orleans. 

A new video of the incident shared on Wednesday shows fellow passengers risking catching the virus themselves as they desperately performed CPR on Hernandez for about 45 minutes. 

Passenger Steven Chang, who was one of three CPR-trained professionals onboard, was filmed giving chest compressions to the man as he lay on the aisle of the Boeing 737-900 in full view of other concerned travelers.  

According to TMZ, Chang has developed symptoms since the flight, but has tested negative for the virus.  

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Chang performing CPR

Video footage shared on Wednesday shows passenger Steven Chang performing CPR on Isaias Hernandez, 69, who died of COVID-19 on a United flight from Orlando to Los Angeles on December 14

Chang was one of three CPR-trained passengers on board who tried to save Hernandez's life by performing

Chang was one of three CPR-trained passengers on board who tried to save Hernandez’s life by performing 

It comes after another passenger, Tony Aldapa, an EMT who also helped perform the life-saving procedure on Hernandez, revealed he has also started showing symptoms of COVID-19. 

But neither of the men – nor any of the other nearby passengers – have been contacted by the CDC since, despite the health authority saying they would work with local health officials to reach out to those who may be at risk for possible exposure or infection.

Tony Aldapa was filmed desperately performing CPR for 45 minutes on a fellow passenger who had fallen unconscious on the United flight last week. He says he has been experiencing symptoms since the flight

Tony Aldapa was filmed desperately performing CPR for 45 minutes on a fellow passenger who had fallen unconscious on the United flight last week. He says he has been experiencing symptoms since the flight

United Airlines said it’s not responsible for soliciting health advice and confirmed A it had already given the names of all 179 passengers to the CDC. 

In a statement to DailyMail.com, the CDC said it has sent the contact information of passengers to state and local health departments where they live for public health follow-up and contact tracing. 

A spokesperson also referred to the CDC’s website on the process, which explains how these agencies then ‘try to locate these passengers and inform them about their exposure and what to do.’ 

But why those agencies are yet to contact passengers is unclear.  

United Airlines has also faced backlash from passengers who have questioned how Hernandez was allowed on board after showing symptoms of the virus. 

Some said Hernandez’s wife was also overheard on the flight saying he had lost his sense of taste and smell.   

TMZ reports that a spokesperson told the outlet they weren’t medical professionals and it is up to the CDC to contact those who may have been exposed.   

Aldapa told CBS he feels as if he got ‘hit by a train’ after developing symptoms. 

Aldapa was among the three passengers who helped perform CPR on the 69-year-old man during the flight. They are seen above in another video of the incident

Aldapa was among the three passengers who helped perform CPR on the 69-year-old man during the flight. They are seen above in another video of the incident 

Aldapa, who is a US Navy veteran, said the man's wife later told him that her husband had been suffering from COVID-19 symptoms prior to getting on the flight

Aldapa, who is a US Navy veteran, said the man’s wife later told him that her husband had been suffering from COVID-19 symptoms prior to getting on the flight

‘I had a cough, my whole body still hurts, I had a headache,’ he told the news station on Tuesday.

He was scheduled to get the COVID-19 vaccine this Friday given he is an essential health worker but is now quarantining awaiting the results of his coronavirus test.

Aldapa, who is a US Navy veteran, said the man’s wife later told him that her husband had been suffering from COVID-19 symptoms prior to getting on the flight. 

‘She told me he had symptoms, he was short of breath and she just wanted to get him home and they planed on getting tested this week,’ Aldapa said. 

Aldapa said he did not administer mouth-to-mouth when he was giving CPR.  

Passengers are asked before boarding a flight whether they have tested positive for COVID-19 or are suffering any symptoms. 

United has since said the man acknowledged United’s ‘ready to fly’ pandemic health checklist prior to boarding. 

Aldapa said he knew the risks when he started performing CPR but that his training kicked in and that he would do it again if needed. 

‘It was all kind of just second nature to see someone in a bad place, you try to bring them out of the bad place,’ Aldapa said. 

‘There were three of us that were essentially tag-teaming doing chest compressions, probably about 45 minutes.’ 

Aldapa, as well as another EMT and an ICU nurse, helped give the man during the flight. 

Footage filmed by fellow passengers showed the trio giving the man chest compressions in the aisle after he stopped breathing about an hour into the flight.

Passengers say the man was seen on the plane shaking and sweating and having a hard time breathing even before the flight took off.   

Once the plane landed, medics from the New Orleans fire department boarded the flight and the man was rushed to a nearby hospital. 

The flight continued on to Los Angeles shortly after. 

Aldapa said United contacted him several days ago to say they were providing the CDC with information about passengers on the flight.

United said they had been asked by the CDC to provide a list of passengers so the agency could work with local health officials on contact tracing.  

‘We are sharing requested information with the (CDC) 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,’ United said in a statement. 

Aldapa said the CDC has still not reached out to him yet regarding contact tracing, despite the coroner’s office revealing the man’s cause of death was related to COVID-19.

In a statement, the CDC said they were in the ‘process of collecting information and proceeding according to our standard operating procedures to determine if further public health action is appropriate. 

‘To protect the privacy of the individual, we aren’t providing this information to the public.’ 

Other passengers on board the flight have also said the CDC hasn’t yet contacted them. 


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