Woman at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport claims she had coronavirus, prompts shutdown of TSA checkpoint

A woman falsely claimed she had coronavirus at a security checkpoint at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, shutting down the checkpoint for 20 minutes, officials said.

By Adam Ferrise

A Los Angeles woman caused the temporary closure of a security checkpoint at Cleveland Hopkins Airport Sunday after she told a TSA agent that she contracted the coronavirus.

The woman licked her fingers as she handed her driver’s license to the agent, Cleveland police and the TSA said.

The 63-year-old woman was not arrested and criminal charges were not filed as of Monday afternoon. Police reports say the woman could face a charge of inducing panic.

The incident caused the checkpoint to close for 20 minutes for the area to be cleaned, according to police and a TSA spokeswoman. The TSA spokeswoman said the agency plans to pursue a civil citation against the woman, which could result in a fine.

The incident happened as coronavirus continues to spread in Ohio and Cuyahoga County. Of the 50 confirmed coronavirus cases in Ohio so far, 24 are in Cuyahoga County.

Airport spokeswoman Michele Dynia referred questions about airport operations to Cleveland’s Joint Information Center. A woman answering the phone there said she could not immediately answer any questions about the woman’s encounter with the agent.

The incident happened about 5:20 p.m. Sunday. The woman walked up to the TSA checkpoint, licked her fingers just before handing her driver’s license to a TSA agent, and said: “Good thing you are wearing gloves because I just licked my fingers and I have coronavirus,” according to police reports.

TSA agents called for the Cleveland fire and medics posted at the airport to respond. The woman denied telling the TSA agent she had coronavirus, but said she did lick her fingers and told the agent she was glad he was wearing gloves, police reports say. She told officers she had no health issues and did not have coronavirus.

An airline banned her from flying on Sunday, according to the TSA. TSA agents prohibited the woman from entering the airport for 24 hours, according to the police report.


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