Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant dies from COVID-19 after outbreak at training

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A Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant who tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a training event in late June died Tuesday, the company told NBC News.

Jeff Kurtzman, 60, was one of 16 others who attended the training course, resulting in the mandatory quarantining of staff, deep cleaning of facilities and cancelation of the training.

Kurtzman returned to Los Angeles after his diagnosis and passed away on July 21 after being admitted to a hospital for severe COVID-19 symptoms, Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram said in a staff email obtained by NBC.

“Over the past three decades [Kurtzman] had become well known to his in-Flight colleagues for his passion for discovering new places, people and cultures; his terrific sense of humor and knack for easy conversation; and his caring heart. He embodied the values of aloha and malama that we hold dear,” Ingram wrote in the email.

According to Connie Florez, a friend of Kurtzman, the late flight attendant informed her some people at the training course in June “got a little lax on the second day, ‘but I kept my mask on. I don’t want to get sick.'”

Hawaiian Airlines said training resumed last week with stricter measures in place, mandating face coverings on throughout the entire course and proper social distancing. 

According to the Hawaii Department of Health, attendees of the training session were exposed to the virus because social distancing was not observed, and masks were optional at the time.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, Hawaii has experienced some of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates, with the most recorded in Honolulu at 1,225 cases.

Hawaii also imposed some of the strictest measures for curbing the spread of the virus, requiring visitors beginning Aug. 1 to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test to avoid a 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

Tags Airlines Aviation Aviation safety Flight attendant Hawaiian Airlines Health

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