United Airlines bans Hawaii couple that boarded plane despite positive COVID-19 results


CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — A Hawaii couple who boarded a United Airlines flight despite knowingly testing positive for COVID-19 was banned from flying with the airline, a spokesperson for the airlines told NewsNation in a statement Friday.

“We have banned these customers while we investigate this matter,” United Airlines spokesperson Leigh Schramm said, noting in the statement that the “health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority.”

Wesley Moribe, 41, and Courtney Peterson, 46, were arrested Sunday for reckless endangerment after boarding a flight traveling from San Francisco to Lihue with a 4-year-old child after testing positive for the coronavirus while returning home from international travel and transiting between Seattle, San Francisco and Hawaii, the Kauai Police Department said.

The couple took a COVID-19 test in Seattle after returning from abroad, police said, then received their positive results while flying between Seattle and San Francisco.

But the two, who had a layover in San Francisco, decided to continue on to Hawaii over the weekend.

According to police, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified local authorities and upon arrival in Lihue, Moribe and Peterson were met by officials from the Department of Health and Kauai police. They were taken to a designated isolation room where they were arrested on suspicion of second-degree reckless endangering.

Doug Yakel, a spokesman for San Francisco International Airport, said officials at the airport’s quarantine station had no contact with the couple and they did not get tested there.

Perry Cooper, a spokesman for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, said the airport has a vendor, Discovery Health MD, that leases space at the airport for testing and that the company works with the local public health and the CDC for testing processes. The airport was not be involved, he said.

United said in a statement that all passengers must complete a checklist confirming they have not tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days before flying. Moribe and Peterson have been banned from traveling with United Airlines, the statement said.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate KHON contributed to this report.

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