SoCal doc goes to extra lengths for COVID safety on JetBlue flight

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- In his first airplane trip since the pandemic, a Southern California doctor wore a full respirator hood enclosed around his head - earning him funny looks from fellow passengers and eventually an order from the airline to replace it with a simple mask.

Dr. Anthony Cardillo, CEO of Mend Urgent Care, said the device he wore was the same one he uses when treating COVID-19 patients in the emergency room.

It's called a PAPR, or a powered air purifying respirator. It involves an enclosed hood around the head attached to a battery-powered HEPA filter worn around the waist.

"It's much more comfortable, I find, than wearing an N95 (mask)," Cardillo said. "Certainly very safe, and effective. This is what I wear in the emergency department."

Cardillo - who was vaccinated in January - says while some of the other flyers gave him funny looks, he simply felt safer wearing the added level of protection.

Then about two hours into the flight to Florida, JetBlue employees asked him to remove it. They said it didn't comply with the airline's mask standards.

He switched to a regular N95 mask.

He does hope to contact JetBlue at some point to find out why exactly a device made for doctors in an emergency room wouldn't meet their standards.

"I was feeling very safe," he says. "For the first two hours at least."

Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.