A woman faces criminal charges after she falsely claimed she had the coronavirus and caused a central Arkansas courthouse to be evacuated Wednesday.
The Mayflower Police Department issued a public advisory yesterday that stated, " The Faulkner County District Court in Mayflower was ordered to be evacuated by the Judge this morning due to a female who made claims that she may have potentially been exposed to the Coronavirus during a commercial flight. Medical Personnel are on scene and Ashmore Drive is shut down until further notice. At this time we have no reason to be believe the public is in any danger. The State Health Department is also involved. Thank you all for the multiple calls of concern. If any additional concerns that the public needs to be made aware of arises, we will get that information out ASAP. Have a great day!"
KATV Channel 7 reports Celia Hill, 34, of North Little Rock, faces counts of filing a false report, obstructing governmental operations and contempt of court..
Hill was at Mayflower District Court to face a misdemeanor drug charge when she apparently became ill and told people that she might have the coronavirus, according to authorities. Authorities cleared the courthouse and took Hill to an area hospital for testing.
The next release from the Mayflower PD followed with, " The Mayflower Police Department has received word that the female who caused concern during the court session this morning has been cleared by the Arkansas Department of Health and criminal charges by the court are pending."
City Prosecuting Attorney David Hogue spoke with KATV and confirmed that Hill faces charges.
"As far as we can tell, she lied about having the coronavirus," Hogue said.
The scare comes amid growing concern over whether the U.S. is prepared to handle an outbreak of the virus. More than 80,000 cases have been reported around the world, mostly in China. President Donald Trump is set to discuss the coronavirus threat in a news conference tonight.
The Trump administration has asked Congress for an additional $2.5 billion to speed development of a vaccine, support preparedness and response activities, and to gather needed equipment and supplies.
The Arkansas Department of Health said in a statement Wednesday that it investigated what happened at the courthouse and that the "person in question" was not under investigation for the coronavirus.
There have been no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Arkansas.
KATV and The Associated Press contributed information to this report.