One of the earliest arrests happened in the beginning of February, when an aspiring Toronto rapper forced a plane into an emergency landing after lying about being infected. During a flight from Toronto to Montego Bay, Jamaica, Potok Philippe announced to the whole cabin that he had traveled to Wuhan, China, where COVID-19 originated, so he’d go viral.
Another incident on a plane happened earlier this month, when a 72-year-old man flying from Dallas to Nashville falsely claimed to have coronavirus, People reports. George Gjergji became agitated when the flight attendant told him to put his tray away and then pointed to a plastic bag with medication, shouting that he had coronavirus. At that point, the pilot chose to return the plane to the gate. Gjergji was arrested and taken into custody for falsely reporting an emergency. He didn’t have any symptoms and told police he was lying. The charges against him were subsequently dropped.
Later, a 65-year-old man was charged in New Hampshire with false public alarm and disorderly conduct when he allegedly told police he had coronavirus on a public bus. David Ladeau was apprehended after police were notified that a man was saying he was infected. The bus driver evacuated the other riders and left Ladeau inside. Officers concluded that the man had lied.
In San Antonio, a man told medics he had been in contact with someone from China, and could have been exposed to the virus. His joke led to an ambulance and two fire stations going on lockdown. He was taken to a downtown hospital, which then couldn’t admit other patients until they took care of the man’s situation. He finally confessed that it was all a joke and that he had never been exposed. The San Antonio Police Department is deciding if the man will be charged.
A 23-year-old man in Texas was arrested for lying about testing positive in a social media post. He also incorrectly alleged that the virus had become airborne, which led to people panicking and jamming hospital and police phone lines. According to police, Michael Lane Brandin “advised deputies his post was to make a point that you cannot believe everything you view online.” A judge issued an arrest warrant and Brandin turned himself into police. He was then jailed on a $1,000 bond and charged with a false alarm or report.
Elsewhere, a man in Lexington, Kentucky and another in Dallas lied about having coronavirus in order to avoid going to jail. A woman in New Jersey coughed on a policeman after crashing her car, claiming she was infected—and was later arrested for a DWI. Another woman in South Carolina lied about testing positive in order miss a child support hearing.
In Chicago, a 21-year-old man was arrested for allegedly coughing in the faces of police officers and saying that he had COVID-19, WGN9 reports. According to police, Anthony Ponzi was slurring his words and foaming at the mouth. After getting arrested, he was transported to a local hospital, where he admitted that he didn't have the virus. He was charged with "two counts of aggravated battery against a police officer, two counts of resisting arrest, battery, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and driving with an expired license," according to the report.