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Maryland health officers raced to stop coronavirus-positive boy from boarding plane

Maryland State Police last month raced to the airport to stop a 9-year-old child from boarding an airplane after his coronavirus test came back positive.

State Police Sgt. Travis Nelson told CNN on Friday that local health officials reached out for help to prevent a boy and his mother from flying out of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) on Nov. 24 — just two hours before his scheduled departure.

Nelson said State Police gave the Maryland Transportation Authority (MTA) police, which is the primary law enforcement agency at the airport, the family’s departure time, destination and names.

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Within 15 minutes, officers at the airports were given a legal isolation and quarantine order. Authorities raced through the airport for roughly 30 minutes before they were able to get in contact with the child’s mother to inform her about her son’s positive test.

Nelson said it all happened in “under an hour.”

"Never got on the plane, no significant exposure there or anything like that,” he told CNN.

The family was sent home with the isolation order for the boy and a quarantine order for his mother, due to her direct exposure, Nelson added. The outlet noted it is unclear when or why they were tested for the virus before their scheduled flight.

The incident occurred two days before Thanksgiving, when thousands of Americans ignored a holiday travel warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which noted that staying home is the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported 1,070,967 people crossed TSA checkpoints that Wednesday. The nearly 1.1 million travelers on the day before Thanksgiving, one of the year's busiest travel days, were the most passengers screened by the TSA since March 16, when the administration reported 1.25 million passengers at the time.

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The data also showed over 1 million people passing through security checkpoints on Nov. 20 and 22. 

This week, the agency made a similar plea for Americans not to travel for Christmas.

“The best thing for Americans to do in the upcoming holiday season is to stay at home and not travel,” Henry Walke, the CDC's COVID-19 incident manager, told reporters Wednesday. “Cases are rising. Hospitalizations are increasing, deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase.”

The CDC said in new guidance it is recommending that if people do end up traveling, they should get tested one to three days before travel and three to five days afterward. People who do not get tested should cut down on nonessential activities for 10 days after travel.