A home in Nelson County, Kentucky is surrounded by Sheriff’s deputies 24 hours a day. They call it forced isolation. “The patient is cooperating now,” Sheriff Ramon Pineiroa assures. The incident highlights a crucial concern. When there’s an urgent health crisis, civil rights seem to get thrown right out the door.
Public safety ‘forced isolation’ or ‘false arrest?’
Nelson County officials “forced an isolation” on a 53-year-old man in Nelson County, Kentucky, who refused to quarantine himself, after allegedly testing positive for COVID-19. The family of six adults trapped inside their home by overzealous officers don’t feel very safe. They didn’t have a chance to get to the store before they were placed in forced isolation. Their names are being withheld because of “threats of personal violence the family has already received.” It’s a good thing they have police protection.
The way they see it, they were imprisoned by false arrest. “We were not going to change our lifestyle, because we know it isn’t true.” Their lawyer confirms “John” doesn’t have the virus and was never even tested. The man, one of 20 cases in the the state, allegedly checked himself out of the hospital against the doctor’s protests. Deputies are surrounding his house to keep him inside and prevent him from intentionally spreading the virus.
The public has nothing to fear from them, the patient’s wife “Jane” insists. They were isolated anyway, for almost a week before John went to the hospital. He was helping her recover from surgery. He never showed symptoms of the coronavirus and was never tested for it, so he couldn’t possibly have a positive result. Not only that, their lawyer checked and confirmed that the records available to the family online match those in the hard file. He was never tested for the virus.
No different from any other year except the panic
John has had COPD for years and it always gets worse around this time of year. His specialist treated him as he usually does. When he started having breathing issues, they set it up for him to check in at the ER. His breathing function was bad enough that he was sent straight into ICU.
In the critical care unit, he was “tested at least twice for influenza and had two chest x-rays and had blood cultures run.” It all came back normal. He shared a room with another patient and was never placed in “quarantine.” The ICU didn’t have him in forced isolation. They checked him out around 10:30 p.m. on Thursday evening. “If there was any positive results, they would not have let us leave.” They went straight home and stayed there.
Twenty-four hours later, at 10:30 p.m. on Friday, the phone rang. “the Lincoln Trail District Health Department contacted John by phone and told him he had tested positive for COVID-19.” They started grilling him like a steak about his contacts and whereabouts. You’re full of crap they told the health officials. “We told them we know it isn’t true,” Jane asserts. “He never even ran a fever at the hospital.” She reads John’s online medical records, “and as of Saturday night there was nothing in his files that showed any tests for COVID-19.” How can you get a positive result without a test?
Fighting the system
That’s when they lawyered up. “Their lawyers also told the couple there was no positive test results in John’s medical files.” As Jane keeps telling everyone, “There is no record he was tested. None. We were not going to change our lifestyle, because we know it isn’t true.” Nelson County Sheriff Ramon Pineiroa assures the public John’s not going anywhere. “Deputies will park outside of the man’s home for 24 hours a day for two weeks,” he promises. “The patient is cooperating now,” Pineiroa added. The whole family will stay in forced isolation whether they like it or not because they’re all allergic to lead.
“It’s a step I hoped that I’d never have to take,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear lamented. If he won’t agree to self-quarantine, law enforcement will make it house arrest. “I can’t allow one person who we know has this virus to refuse to protect their neighbors,” he insists. Even if the test results are pure fiction.
Nelson County Judge Dean Watts agrees. “Quarantine is a must. If we have to, we’ll do it by force.” Kentucky law says they can do it. Health and Family Services has “the power to declare and ‘strictly maintain’ quarantine and isolation as it sees fit.” If you look like you might be infected, then be prepared to be treated like you are, whether you are or not.
Jane explains that despite the illegal confinement, “they are complying with the judge’s order.” They want everyone to know, “it caught them by surprise and with six adults and pets in the home, they did not get an opportunity to stock up on supplies.” With no nearby family they are trying to figure out “how to stay fed until March 26.”