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Florida pair arrested for breaking COVID-19 quarantine order

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Jose Freire Interian was strolling his canine close to his Key West dwelling when a neighbor started recording him on her cellphone. Hours later, police got here knocking on his door with an arrest warrant and whisked Freire and his spouse to the county ja-il.

The cost: violating quarantine after testing optimistic for COVID-19.

As a nationwide debate swirls over masks and self-quarantines, communities are grappling over how aggressively they need to implement myriad guidelines meant to regulate the unfold of the novel pressure of coronavirus, which has now contaminated greater than 460,000 in Florida and kil-led practically 6,600 of its residents.

“It’s a national debate up until the health department tells you to quarantine, and then there’s no more debate,” Key West City Manager Greg Veliz mentioned Thursday.

“If the law allows someone to be arrested for violating a quarantine order and they continue to thumb their nose at the law – yeah, they should be arrested,” Veliz mentioned.

Intense debate over masks, enterprise closures and social distancing have raged for the reason that begin of the outbreak. Arrests have been uncommon, however there have been occasional flare ups.

In May, a Kentucky girl contaminated with the virus was arrested whereas buying for groceries. Authorities accused her of “wanton endangerment” and “criminal mischief,” in accordance with the Lexington Herald-Leader.

That similar month, a coronavirus affected person was chased down and arrested in Nashville after being positioned beneath quarantine by public well being officers.

In Hawaii final month, 21 vacationers have been arrested for breaking the state’s obligatory 14-day quarantine. None examined optimistic for the coronavirus.

Veliz mentioned the Florida couple was arrested Wednesday after police obtained a grievance and a video exhibiting a potential violation of a quarantine order imposed by state public well being officers in opposition to the couple.

The Keys, a sequence of islands fanning westward from Florida’s southern tip, had been closed to vacationers and different nonresidents for two months within the spring to maintain the virus from spreading. It reopened to guests in June.

In Florida, a nationwide sizzling spot for the outbreak, public well being officers have urged individuals to put on masks and maintain their distance. But in addition they have the authority to order those that are contaminated to self-quarantine.

Freire Interian and his spouse, Yohana Gonzalez, discovered they have been contaminated with the virus on July 15, after being examined 5 days earlier, in accordance with a quarantine order issued July 21 by the Florida Department of Health that decided them to “present an immediate danger of harm to others.”

Health officers ordered the couple to put on face masks at dwelling, a 3 bed room home the couple shares with a minimum of three different tenants. And they have been required to self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days.

The order famous that the couple had did not put on face coverings at dwelling and had gone to the grocery retailer a day earlier than the quarantine order was issued.

The couple will go earlier than a decide in August, after posting bail Thursday morning.

Freire Interian expressed exasperation and speculated that the arrests have been the results of a soured relationship with one other tenant.

“I didn’t do anything. I was just walking my dog,”mentioned Freire Interian, 24. “It’s not as if I left the house to go shopping.”

While he was strolling his canine, he mentioned, he was being recorded by one in every of his neighbors.

Later within the afternoon, police arrived.

“They knocked on the door real loud. I opened the door. They told me ‘Come on,’ and I asked them, ‘Why?’ I was in shock,” Freire Interian mentioned. “Why am I getting arrested for? It was unfair.”

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Follow AP protection of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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