New York

Measles Scare Delays Flight to NYC; JetBlue Accused of Profiling Orthodox Boy

What to Know

  • A flight from the Dominican Republic to NYC was delayed over a measles scare; the plane was quarantined temporarily
  • A Passover program director said JetBlue crews saw an Orthodox Jewish boy with mosquito bites and profiled him
  • 695 measles cases had been reported this year nationwide, with nearly 400 cases confirmed in New York alone

A measles scare aboard a JetBlue plane from the Dominican Republic to New York City delayed the flight Sunday night and prompted allegations of airline profiling amid the worst outbreak of the disease the nation has seen in decades.

JetBlue Flight 410 landed at JFK Airport from Santo Domingo around 9 p.m., but was held at the terminal after officials got reports of a medical emergency on the plane.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Port Authority temporarily quarantined the plane while the passengers got checked out. A short time later all customers got the all clear and flyers deplaned normally, JetBlue said in a statement.

Some passengers told News 4 they weren’t sure what was going on, but rumors were circulating that somebody may have had measles.

“Some sort of medic type guy came on with a mask and a police man, probably Port Authority, with a mask looked at the kid and decided that it was probably mosquito bites,” one passenger said.

A Passover program director said he organized the trip for Orthodox families and said JetBlue crews saw an Orthodox Jewish boy with mosquito bites and unfairly profiled him as having measles.

As of Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported 704 cases of measles in the United States since the beginning 2019, marking the largest number of cases reported in the country in a single year since 1994. New York has been responsible for more than half of the 700-plus cases.

Measles is a highly contagious disease, and symptoms include rash, high fever, cough and red, watery eyes. According to the CDC, the current outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back from countries like Israel, the Ukraine and the Phillippines. All of those nations have large current outbreaks.

The data isn't always apple-to-apple comparisons because it comes from different sources -- local, state and federal. For some context, as of Thursday, 390 confirmed measles cases have been reported in Brooklyn and Queens since October. In Rockland County, 202 cases had been confirmed as of Monday.

That county made national headlines last month when it took the unusual step of banning unvaccinated minors from public places. That ban, along with a New York City emergency declaration affecting mainly four ZIP codes in Brooklyn, remains in effect. In New Jersey, Ocean County has reported dozens of confirmed measles cases since October. Outbreaks have also been noted in Washington, Michigan and California, Butte County. 

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