A couple from Hawaii has been arrested for trying to fly with COVID-19.
The pair was arrested last weekend for flying home from San Francisco after they had tested positive for COVID-19 and were told by airport authorities to self-quarantine.
Wesley Moribe, 41, and Courtney Peterson, 46, both of Wailua, Hawaii, flew on Sunday along with an unidentified 4-year-old child, even though they tested positive before boarding. The couple are accused of putting passengers and crew on board the United Airlines flight “in danger of death” by exposing them to the virus during the nearly six-hour flight.
“According to a preliminary report, the couple had been instructed by the Quarantine Station at the San Francisco International Airport not to fly and to isolate, a Kaua’i Police Department news release said,” CNN reported. They were each charged with second-degree reckless endangering, the release said, and later released on $1,000 bail.
“The Kauai Police Department, working alongside our county and state partners, remain diligent in protecting the health and safety of our island,” Chief of Police Todd G. Raybuck said in a statement. “We continue to request visitors and residents alike to follow the Governor’s Emergency Rules and take all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
In a statement to People magazine, a spokesman for United said, “We are investigating this matter further to assess these passengers’ ability to fly on United in the future.”
“The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have various policies and procedures in place as part of a multi-layered approach to create a safer travel environment,” the spokesman said. “Prior to traveling, all United customers are required to complete a ‘Ready to Fly’ checklist acknowledging they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.”
People added some more details. After the couple arrived in Hawaii, “authorities then escorted the pair and the 4-year-old to a designated isolation room, where they were investigated further by officers equipped with PPE, including gloves, protective gowns and masks/safety shields.”
“An investigation determined that Moribe and Peterson ‘knowingly boarded a flight aware of their positive COVID-19 test results, placing the passengers of the flight in danger of death,'” according to Coco Zickos, the Public Information Officer at Kaua‘i Police Department. “Meanwhile, the 4-year-old child was released into the care of a family member and Child Protective Services was notified, officials say.”
Travelers flying in to Hawaii must create a profile on Safe Travels, which allows state officials to track and enforce quarantines for visitors who opt out of pre-travel testing.
As of Wednesday, the state had at least 18,049 cases and 242 deaths attributed to COVID-19, according to The New York Times.
The couple’s arrest follows the arrests of three women from Tennessee, including a registered nurse, who face criminal charges after hosting a large house party on Halloween with at least 100 guests.