Delta was aware of COVID exposure for 3 Minn. congressmen who flew after contact with Trump

Delta Air Lines reports it was aware of the COVID-19 exposure of three Minnesota congressmen when they flew home from Washington, D.C., Friday night, just two days after they shared Air Force One with President Donald Trump.

Republican U.S. Reps. Pete Stauber, Tom Emmer and Jim Hagedorn all were on the same Delta flight despite the airline’s restrictions on passengers recently exposed to COVID-19.

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Trump announced early Friday morning he had tested positive for the virus.

Delta’s policy says customers who know they were exposed to the virus in the past 14 days cannot travel on the company’s aircraft. The airline defines exposure as face-to-face contact with someone carrying the virus, or sustained contact for more than 15 minutes less than 6 feet apart.

Ken Martin, chairman of the state Democratic party, said the three Republican congressmen put the health and safety of other passengers at serious risk.

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Hagedorn pushed back in a post on his campaign Facebook page Saturday morning, saying the three men had tested negative and had not been exposed to someone carrying the virus longer than 15 minutes and closer than 6 feet. He said the men also informed the airline and the flight’s captain of their situation, and the airline "made the decision to fly based upon the facts."

A Delta spokesman, Anthony Black, told The Associated Press on Saturday that he did not know what other passengers on the flight were told about the situation. Black confirmed the airplane was held for about an hour until the airline’s operations center in Atlanta cleared it to fly. He said Delta was reviewing the matter to see if proper procedures were followed.

Monday, Delta told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that its staff "conducted additional screening measures with our medical partners at Stat-MD," including having a medical professional directly assess their readiness to fly. Given their conditions, Delta said the congressmen were cleared to travel.

Delta added, "We have comprehensive health and safety measures for every aircraft on every flight including sanitization, mandatory masks for everyone, air filtration and distancing practices. At check-in every customer acknowledges they are healthy to fly and our STAT-MD partnership assists with additional medical screening when needed. These policies and precautions account for customers who may have been exposed to a potential health risk. We work directly with medical experts to assess each situation and clear customers to travel based on [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.