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Tipsheet

Woman Quarantines in Airplane Bathroom for Hours After Positive COVID-19 Test

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

A Michigan school teacher quarantined in an airplane bathroom for five hours after testing positive for the Wuhan coronavirus mid-flight, TODAY reported Wednesday.

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Marisa Fotieo was flying to Reykjavik, Iceland from Chicago on Dec. 20 when her throat began to hurt during the flight. She brought COVID-19 rapid tests with her for her travels. She decided to take one in the airplane bathroom and discovered she was infected with the virus.

"I just took my rapid test and I brought it into the bathroom, and within what felt like two seconds there were two lines (indicating a positive test)," Fotieo said to TODAY.

After she tested positive, Fotieo decided to remain in the airplane bathroom for the remainder of the flight, which she estimated was five hours. 

“There’s 150 people on the flight, and my biggest fear was giving it to them,” Fotieo told TODAY. A flight attendant on board checked in on her periodically. 

“She made sure I had everything I needed for the next five hours from food to drinks and constantly checked on me assuring me I would be all right," Fotieo told NBC News.

Fotieo posted a video of her experience on TikTok, where the video accumulated over four and a half million views. In the video, Fotieo is seen sitting in the airplane bathroom, wearing several masks, with the caption “POV: you test positive for COVID while over the Atlantic Ocean.”

Upon landing, Fotieo told TODAY she had to isolate in a Red Cross hotel. The flight attendant who helped Fotieo during the flight sent her a Christmas gift while she was quarantining.

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"She bought me flowers and a little Christmas tree with lights so I could hang it," Fotieo told TODAY. "It was so heartfelt, and she’s just an angel."

TODAY noted that as of Tuesday, more than 1,100 flights in the United States were cancelled due to inclement weather and staffing shortages due to the spread of the Omicron variant. On Tuesday, the country hit a record-high seven-day average for positive cases with approximately 262,000. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Omicron variant makes up 58 percent of the positive cases.

This week, I reported that President Biden told reporters that he will implement a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel “when [he] gets a recommendation from the medical team.” Biden’s statement came after his chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said in an interview with MSNBC that the United States should consider a domestic air travel vaccine mandate. 

“When you make vaccination a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated,” Fauci said in the interview. “If you want to do that with domestic flights, I think that’s something that seriously should be considered.”

After Biden’s remarks, GOP Rep. Greg Murphy (NC) appeared in an interview with Fox Business where he slammed the Biden administration for considering a domestic air travel vaccine mandate while there is no vaccine mandate for immigrants crossing the southern border. 

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“The sad thing is, if you have to be mandated to fly on a plane, what about if you walk in over the border in the southern United States, is there any mandate there?,” Murphy said in the interview. 

“I don’t know what he’s [Biden] going to do. I don’t think it should be done. I don’t think it has moved the needle anywhere. The sad thing is, this virus is here. It’s going to have to mutate into a form that it is not virulent anymore until we get out of the pandemic,” Murphy added. “But these mandates and these forcing of businesses and these forcing of schools, especially, to close do nothing but hurt the American people.”

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