A married couple who live on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i recently flew home from San Francisco despite both having tested positive for COVID-19, and they were promptly arrested and charged with endangering other passengers on the plane.
The couple, identified as Wesley Moribe and Courtney Peterson of Wailua, Hawaii, both 46, were arrested upon landing at Lihue Airport on Sunday, November 29. SFGate reports that they tested positive while at the airport, during the mandatory pre-travel screening at SFO, and were told not to board their United Airlines flight. They did so anyway, but they were not caught until they landed hours later.
Local station KHON reported that they were arrested for reckless endangerment, and the charges said they put other plane passengers in "danger of death."
The couple was also traveling with a four-year-old child, who was reportedly sent to stay with a family member by Child Protective Services.
Both were detained on $1,000 bail, and were released on bail.
United Airlines issued a statement saying, "The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have various policies and procedures as part of a multi-layered approach to create a safer travel environment. While we don’t require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before travel, customers are required to complete a ‘Ready to Fly’ checklist acknowledging they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days."
The island of Kaua'i has been doing everything it can to avoid the spread of COVID-19, and as ABC 7 reports, these two new infections bring the current number of active cases on the island to 17, up from 15.
As Travel + Leisure reported this week, Kaua'i County reinstated the mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travelers to the island, in a decision to opt out from the current rule in the rest of Hawaii that allows travelers to skip the quarantine if they test negative for the virus.
"The unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases on the mainland and the rise in community spread on Kaua'i are of significant concern for the Garden Isle. We must protect Kaua'i residents and visitors and ensure that Kaua'i’s hospitals do not become overwhelmed,” said Hawaii's Governor David Ige in a statement Friday. “Kaua'i county currently has the fewest number of ICU beds in the state, and private providers are seeking ways to increase capacity. This moratorium aims to stabilize the situation on Kaua'i."
Two weeks ago, a San Francisco woman who tried to flout the quarantine rules after landing on Maui was arrested by island authorities after she was found tweeting photos from a remote beach and not staying the accommodations she claimed to have for self-isolating.
Photo: Braden Jarvis