Dennis Rodman confronted by police in airport for refusing to wear Covid mask on plane

Police say basketball star would pull down his mask ‘throughout the trip stating he had trouble breathing’

Gustaf Kilander
Tuesday 21 December 2021 16:46 GMT
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Former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman was confronted by police for refusing to wear his face mask properly on a plane after being asked to do so several times.

The 60-year-old was in first class on a JetBlue flight from Los Angeles, California to Fort Lauderdale, Florida when staff asked him to pull up his mask, which was sitting below his chin.

Amid the arrival of the Omicron variant and surging Covid-19 cases, airlines and airports are enforcing the federal mask mandate for both passengers and staff in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

Mr Rodman reportedly put his mask on after being asked several times by staff but continued to pull it down, claiming that he had issues breathing. After several confrontations, Mr Rodman met with Broward County deputies when they landed in Florida. He was not issued a citation after agreeing to cooperate.

JetBlue says on their website that all travellers over the age of two have to wear a mask, covering the nose and mouth, during flights, as well as during boarding and landing.

In September of last year, Mr Rodman was also seen violating Covid guidelines as he failed to socially distance and properly wear a mask as he interacted with fans in a grocery store in Los Angeles.

“Mr Rodman was wearing a mask but would temporarily pull it down at different times while the plane was in flight,” a spokesperson for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office told the Miami Herald. “The staff stated that they would ask him to pull it back up and he would, but then would pull it down again throughout the trip stating he had trouble breathing.”

“Mr Rodman cooperated with deputies and exited the airport grounds on his own with no issues,” the spokesperson added.

The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is now five times more prevalant in the US compared to just one week ago. It’s now the dominant variant in the country after the Delta variant was the prominent strain for the last five months.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Omicron made up 12 per cent of cases on 11 December but had increased to make up 73 per cent of cases as of 18 December as Americans started to either travel home for the holidays or choose to cancel their plans.

“I would advise wearing high-quality masks during travel and staying away from people as much as possible within the airports,” epidemiology professor Tara Smith at Kent State University told Vox. “I would advise testing before travel to make sure you’re not exposing others. Ideally, this would include a PCR test shortly before the flight, but realistically, these are getting harder to do because of a delay in turn-around times for testing. Rapid tests would be another alternative.”

“If I knew everyone in my holiday gathering were fully vaccinated and boosted, I wouldn’t be terribly concerned, unless a member of my party were older and had a health condition that put them at elevated risk of more severe disease, in which case I would have some concerns for their health,” Janet Baseman, an epidemiology professor at the University of Washington, told the outlet. “We are still awaiting data on how well boosters protect against severe disease with Omicron.”

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