Hawaii Couple Tests Positive For Coronavirus And Boards A Flight Home

by Leah Groth

Wesley Moribe and Courtney Peterson boarded a flight from California to Hawaii after testing positive for COVID-19

This week the United States broke two grim COVID-19 records, tallying up more hospitalizations and deaths than ever before. In fact, experts are concerned that hospitals across the country will soon be at capacity. The sad truth is that not everyone is doing their part to slow the spread of the highly infectious virus, as can be demonstrated by a COVID-positive Hawaiian couple who were arrested this week for getting on a plane despite knowing they were infected with the virus that has killed over 274,000 Americans in less than 10 months.

Wesley Moribe, 41, and Courtney Peterson, 46, were arrested in Hawaii on Wednesday and charged with reckless endangerment for boarding a flight from San Francisco to Lihue with their 4-year-old son after testing positive for COVID-19. According to Coco Zickos, a spokeswoman for Kauai police, San Francisco International Airport officials had instructed them to isolate and not to travel. However, because they clearly had no regard for other people’s lives, they decided to board the plane and fly six hours anyway.

“They knowingly boarded a flight aware of their positive COVID-19 test results, placing the passengers of the flight in danger of death,” Zickos said in a statement, according to NBC News.

Upon arrival to the Lihue Airport, they were escorted by police to an isolation room for processing and investigation. The couple, who are residents of Wailua, were arrested on second-degree reckless endangerment charges. As for their son, a family member had to come pick him up and authorities notified Child Protective Services. The couple has been released on a $1,000 bail and face up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine if convicted of the crime.

In case you’re curious how the authorities learned that the couple was knowingly infected with the virus, a spokesman for the Hawaii Covid-19 Joint Information Center revealed that the state Health Department is alerted when someone tests positive for the virus. They also confirmed that the couple was well aware of their test results when they hopped on the aircraft.

“Rather than quarantining and contacting their health provider, they went on the plane,” the spokesman said.

United has a strict policy — like all other airlines — that you can’t travel if you are infected with the virus and must follow CDC guidelines, waiting at least 10 days after your positive test or after two negative COVID-19 tests to travel.

Moribe and Peterson will not be flying the friendly skies with United anytime soon, as a United spokesperson confirmed they have been banned. “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 multilayered approach to create a safer travel environment,” a United spokesperson told The Washington Post in an email.

So, what is the big deal about spending six hours on a plane when you are battling a deadly virus? “Knowingly flying on an airplane while infected with COVID-19 is really inexcusable,” Dr. Darren Mareiniss, MD, FACEP, Emergency Medicine Physician at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and expert in pandemic preparedness, explains to Scary Mommy. “This virus aerosolizes readily and is particularly contagious indoors. By doing this, the infected passengers exposed multiple unsuspecting passengers to potentially deadly infection.”

This scenario is not only a reminder to stay home when you are sick, but will hopefully inspire you to be proactive about your own health as well as the health of others, and postpone your travel plans until after the pandemic.