State’s first COVID-19 patient traveled through Gulfport Airport

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Mississippi’s first case of coronavirus was reported by the Mississippi State Department of Health on Wednesday in Forrest County. Prior to his diagnosis, the man traveled to Florida and went through the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. 

In a statement, the airport explained that State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers and the Forrest General Hospital Chief Medical Officer have informed them that other travelers who may have been at the airport with the man are “not in danger of contagion as the person was not displaying symptoms at the time.”

The airport says that they will continue to take precautions and enforce increased cleaning procedures. 

“The airport’s custodial team is conducting additional cleanings in frequently touched areas like handrails, door handles and other hard surfaces. Hand sanitizing dispensers are located throughout the terminal for passengers and employees to use. Restroom handwashing stations are also located throughout the terminal both before and after security.”

During a press conference Thursday, Dr. Byers stated that while the patient may have picked up the virus during travel, the 14-day incubation period doesn’t allow them to be certain. 

“Certainly there was travel to Florida in the time that could indicate that transmission occurred there, but remember that the incubation period is up to 14 days. We would like to say for sure that it was travel-associated because we know that there was travel, but the incubation period is outside of that window as well.”

The patient has no known contact with a confirmed case prior to being infected. 

Dr. Byers went on to say that they have identified a “very small number” of people that were in contact with him, and some of them are under home-isolation. 

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