Police had an hour to stop a mom and her COVID-positive son from boarding a flight. They found them just in time.

A mother and her child were stopped from boarding a flight to Puerto Rico before Thanksgiving after Maryland officials learned the child tested positive for COVID-19.

The Wicomico County Health Department notified Maryland State Police on Nov. 24 that a 9-year-old boy tested positive for the novel coronavirus and informed them that he and his mother were scheduled to depart from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to Puerto Rico, Maryland State Police Sgt. Travis Nelson told USA TODAY.

Police were notified at 3 p.m. and the flight was scheduled to depart at 4:15 p.m. Nelson said they were able to identify the mother and son and stop them from boarding in under an hour thanks to the local health department and the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.

State police received an isolation and quarantine order, documents that would legally prevent the mother and child from boarding the plane, at 3:15 p.m.. And just 30 minutes before the flight was scheduled to depart, officials found the mother and child.

“The trust and the network and coordination that’s been formed in 2020 allowed us to prevent another super spreader event from occurring,” Nelson said. “In this case, on a plane to Puerto Rico which could’ve had really unknown consequences for those on plane.” 

On Nov. 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended against travel for Thanksgiving and made the same recommendation again for Christmas and the upcoming holiday season.

“The tragedy that could happen is that one of your family members is coming to this family gathering and they could end up severely ill, hospitalized or dying. And we don’t want that to happen,” said Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, when recommending against holiday travel. “These times are tough, it’s been a long outbreak, almost 11 months, and we understand people are tired.”

Contributing: Sara M Moniuszko

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