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Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant who took a training session linked to COVID-19 cluster has died

Jeff Kurtzman, 60, who was a senior flight attendant for the airline, died on Tuesday

A Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant, who reportedly participated in a training session that has been linked to a COVID-19 cluster, has died. 

Jeff Kurtzman, 60, who was a senior flight attendant for the airline, died on Tuesday. Kurtzman tested positive for the virus earlier this month.

Kurtzman joined the company in 1986 and was based in Los Angeles, according to Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram, who released an email announcing Kurtzman’s death to company employees. 

In the statement, seen by Hawaii News Now, Ingram wrote that Kurtzman had ‘become well known to his In-Flight colleagues for his passion for discovering new places, people and cultures’ and was admired for his ‘terrific sense of humor and knack for easy conversation’.

‘He embodied the values of aloha and malama that we hold dear,’ Ingram said in the email.

Ingram said the airline has also reached out to Kurtzman’s husband to offer support and condolences. 

It’s unclear if Kurtzman had any underlying health conditions.

Kurtzman tested positive for the virus earlier this month, according to Hawaiian Airlines

Kurtzman tested positive for the virus earlier this month, according to Hawaiian Airlines 

Kurtzman (right) had reportedly attended a training session in Honolulu in June, which led to at least 24 people, including 16 staff members, getting the illness

Kurtzman (right) had reportedly attended a training session in Honolulu in June, which led to at least 24 people, including 16 staff members, getting the illness

One flight attendant said a couple of other flight attendants participated in the classes while feeling sick. It's unclear if Kurtzman (right) had any underlying health conditions

One flight attendant said a couple of other flight attendants participated in the classes while feeling sick. It’s unclear if Kurtzman (right) had any underlying health conditions

According to Hawaii News Now, Kurtzman had attended a training session in Honolulu in June, which led to at least 24 people, including 16 staff members, being infected with coronavirus. 

One flight attendant told the news outlet that a couple of flight attendants participated in the classes while feeling sick. 

‘Initially classes started out in compliance with seating six to nine feet apart in the classroom setting. However during the course of the day it became obvious that there was not enough conscious effort to sanitize the entire work areas,’ the employee claimed. 

‘Several areas throughout the day became ‘shared’ areas making for a bad end result,’ the worker said.

At the time, masks were not required in the classes, but since the cluster outbreak, Hawaiian Airlines has made mask-wearing mandatory. Sessions have also been reduced in capacity. 

The total number of coronavirus cases reported in the US passed 4 million on Thursday, reflecting a rapid acceleration of infections in the country since the first case was recorded on January 21, a Reuters tally showed.

Kurtzman joined the company in 1986 and was based in Los Angeles, according to Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram, who released an email announcing Kurtzman's death to company employees

Kurtzman joined the company in 1986 and was based in Los Angeles, according to Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram, who released an email announcing Kurtzman’s death to company employees

It took the country 98 days to reach 1 million cases, but just 16 days to go from 3 million to 4 million, according to the tally. 

The case total indicates that at least one in 82 people in the US have been infected.

The average number of new US cases is now rising by more than 2,600 every hour, the highest rate in the world.

As the pandemic has spread from the early epicenter of New York to the South and West, federal, state and local officials have clashed over how to ease lockdowns imposed to curb the infection rate, including in some states whether to rollback reopenings.

The ordering of face coverings, a common practice around the world and recommended by the federal government’s own health experts, has also become highly politicized, with some Republican governors particularly resistant.

Hostility to the idea appeared to be dwindling this week, including from the Republican administration of President Donald Trump, who once dismissed mask-wearing as an effort to be politically correct.

Trump, who faces falling poll numbers over his handling of the health crisis ahead of the November election, has long refused to wear a mask in public but this week encouraged Americans to do so.

A surge in cases has been seen in California, Texas, Florida and the Carolinas since earlier this month.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk