Now we know what happens when a coronavirus positive person refuses to quarantine

A Spokane, Washington, health department official was forced to jail a man for refusing to quarantine despite being positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.

Spokane Regional Health District Health Officer Bob Lutz issued the order Thursday, citing a public health emergency.

According to agency spokesman Kelli Hawkins, the person is homeless and suffers from mental health problems stemming from alcohol and drug abuse, the Spokesperson-Review reported. On top of that, Hawkins said public health officials were “dealing with an individual who did not want to isolate himself.”

Health District officials said the man had other options, such as quarantine at SRHD’s isolation facilities. The agency has encouraged homeless people to take refuge there while waiting for their test results or if they tested positive for the coronavirus. Not only do they have a place to stay, but they are also provided with free meals.

Dr. Lutz, the Spokane County Board of Commissioners and SRHD attempted to find an isolation facility that could be used for the man’s quarantine. They were willing to place a correctional guard outside during the quarantine, but they arrived empty-handed.

“The vast majority of people living homeless or in a shelter have options that do not include incarceration,” Hawkins explained.

Law enforcement officers were not involved in the arrest of the man. Paramedics used an ambulance to transport the man to prison in downtown Spokane.

“It’s a challenge. I don’t know if this has happened before,” said Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. “For me, I think there is an ethical problem. It is an ethical medical issue of protecting the public, while it’s about protecting the patient and their rights. That’s a very fine line to walk. “

The order is in effect until July 11. Should the need arise for a longer quarantine period, Lutz will have to petition the courts.