Couple arrested after testing positive for virus, knowingly boarding flight
When they arrived in Hawaii, Wesley Moribe and Courtney Peterson were escorted off to be processed, questioned, then arrested.
A couple was arrested in Hawaii for reckless endangerment after boarding an airline flight knowing they had tested positive for COVID-19.
Wesley Moribe, 41, and Courtney Peterson, 46, got onboard a United Airlines plane to Lihue from San Francisco with their four-year-old son on Wednesday.
After being tested in California, the couple was notified of their positive results and told to isolate. Instead of doing so, “rather than quarantining and contacting their health provider, they went on the plane,” a spokesperson for the Hawaii COVID-19 Joint Information Center told NBC News.
Upon their arrival at Lihue Airport, Moribe and Peterson were escorted by authorities to an isolation room to be processed and questioned.
“They knowingly boarded a flight aware of their positive COVID-19 test results, placing the passengers of the flight in danger of death,” said Coco Zickos, a spokesperson for Kauai police.
The couple flew on a United Airlines flight, which requires all passengers to complete a “Ready to Fly” checklist where they acknowledge that they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the previous 14 days.
In a statement, the airline said health and safety for passengers and employees is the “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.”
United’s website says it adheres to CDC guidelines: “Following CDC guidelines, you will not be able to travel on United for at least 10 days after the date you tested positive and only after you have two successive negative COVID-19 results that were administered at least 24 hours apart.”
Moribe and Peterson were charged with second-degree reckless endangerment, and a family member took their child home. The couple later posted a $1,000 bond. They could face up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine if convicted.
The CDC notes “that the risk for on-board transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during long flights is real and has the potential to cause COVID-19 clusters of substantial size, even in business class-like settings with spacious seating arrangements well beyond the established distance used to define close contact on airplanes.”