COVID Patients Who Won't Self Isolate Are Being Arrested in This State

The Texas county's new order says anyone who simply exposes others to the virus can be detained.

While some areas of the country have been more lenient with enforcing social distancing guidelines, others have taken a more direct approach to keep the spread of the virus at bay, including issuing fines for not maintaining six feet of distance. But while mask mandates and fines for large groups may be becoming the norm, one state is taking things to another level. Brooks County in Texas is warning residents that any COVID-19 patients who won't self isolate will be arrested, a local CBS News affiliate reports.

Brooks County, located in southern Texas, released a statement via social media over the Fourth of July weekend that warned "any person who has tested positive for COVID-19 … must isolate themselves" or risk being arrested. The order cites Texas Penal Code 22.05 (a), which states states "a person commits an offense if he recklessly engages in conduct that places another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury." The statement clarifies that anyone leaving home to receive medical care is exempt.

"If you're going to go out and endanger other people, and we find out about it, we will prosecute you," Brooks County Attorney David Garcia said via KII TV. "People have not really embraced the dangers of COVID-19. It's dangerous. It's killing people, and it's making people very sick. So either do it because you're concerned about others or do it because you're going to be punished if you don't."

Garcia has encouraged anyone who feels they have been exposed to the virus to call the police or the county attorney's office to report the violation. The warning also clarifies that potential victims do not have to contract the virus, but only need to be "exposed to it without previous warning."

For now, Brooks County may simply be stemming the surrounding tide: The district has only reported 18 cases of COVID-19 versus the state's overall approximate number of 220,220.

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But the unique order comes as Texas is witnessing new sets of worrying numbers each day, including dwindling ICU beds, an infection rate of 1.20, and a positive test rate of 13.3 percent, according to Covid Act Now. This has earned the Lone Star State a spot on Covid Act Now's "critical" list and led certain state officials to urge residents to shelter in place. And for more on how the law has handled coronavirus, check out Teens Pull COVID-19 Prank at Walmart, Face Charges of Terrorism.


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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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