Couple accused of knowingly boarding flight to Hawaii with COVID-19

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A man and a woman from Hawaii are facing charges for allegedly catching a flight home from California after testing positive for COVID-19, despite orders to quarantine at the airport.

Wesley Moribe, 41, and Courtney Peterson, 46, were arrested Sunday in Hawaii on charges of second-degree reckless endangering, Hawaii News Now and CNN report.

Police say the suspects went through mandatory coronavirus testing at San Francisco International Airport, where they each tested positive for COVID-19.

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Officials escorted them to a quarantine station and told them they’d have to miss their flight, but they skipped out and boarded the United Airlines aircraft anyway, authorities say.

“They knowingly boarded a flight aware of their positive COVID-19 test results, placing the passengers of the flight in danger of death,” Kaua’i police said.

Authorities intercepted the couple after they disembarked at Lihue Airport, NBC News reports. Both suspects were quarantined and their son, 4, was sent home with a relative.

Child Protective Services was notified about the incident, police said.

Hawaii health authorities said they were alerted about the positive test and that the couple knew before they flew home.

“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.

The suspects were arrested in Hawaii and later released on $1,000 bail.

“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,” Kaua’i Police Chief Todd Raybuck said in a news release.

“Prior to travelling, 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,” a United Airlines spokesperson told NBC News.

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The airline added that the health and safety of customers and employees is its “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.”

It’s unclear how many passengers were on the flight when the infected couple was on board.

The suspects have not responded to various outlets’ requests for comment.

More than 274,000 people have died of the virus in the United States to date.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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