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Reno County DA looking at ramifications of COVID-19 quarantine order following patient who may have infected others

Coronavirus in Kansas

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – Reno County District Attorney Keith E. Schroeder is looking at ramifications of COVID-19 quarantine/isolation order following a patient who may have infected others

The district attorney said it stemmed from a situation where an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 is believed to have infected at least four others in the community. The DA said the circumstances are still being investigated, and the number of persons infected may rise.

Reno County District Attorney Keith E. Schroeder on violation of quarantine/isolation orders

The Reno County Public Health Officer, Nicholas Baldetti, is legally authorized, pursuant to K.S.A. 65-129b, to issue a “quarantine order” to any individual he has reason to believe has been exposed to COVID-19 and may be contagious to other persons.  The quarantine order requires an individual to remain confined within a specific location/home for a designated period of time not to exceed 30 days, while that person’s condition is monitored by the Reno County Health Department.  A quarantined person is prohibited from having contact with anybody other than immediate household members, and the quarantined person may not have visitors unless specifically authorized by the Reno County Health Department.

Baldetti is also legally authorized, pursuant to K.S.A. 65-129b, to issue an “isolation order” for anybody who has tested positive for having COVID-19.  The isolation order requires an individual to remain confined within a specific location/home for a designated period of time not to exceed 30 days, while that person’s condition is monitored by the Reno County Health Department.  Unless specifically authorized by the Reno County Health Department, a person subjected to an isolation order cannot have visitors other than a Reno County Health Department employee, medical provider, or law enforcement official engaged in the performance of his/her official duty.  If another immediate household member resides in the location/home, a person subjected to an isolation order cannot have contact with the other immediate household member while in the same room of the location/home.

An individual formally issued a quarantine/isolation order has a right, pursuant to K.S.A. 65-129c, to request a hearing in the Reno County District Court to contest the order.  However, such a request for a hearing does not stay or enjoin the quarantine/isolation order, and the person subjected to a formal quarantine/isolation order is still legally bound by the order unless otherwise determined by a judge.

In the event the person subjected to a formal quarantine/isolation order is unable to provide for his/her basic needs, such as food, the Reno County Health Department will make arrangements to meet those basic needs.

Any person who violates the requirements of a quarantine/isolation order is subject to criminal prosecution for “Violation of a Quarantine/Isolation Order”, a class C misdemeanor, pursuant to K.S.A. 65-129.  Law enforcement is legally required to assist in the execution and enforcement of quarantine/isolation orders.

If necessary, a person subject to a formal quarantine/isolation order, can be ordered to be placed in a secure quarantine/isolation facility.  Likewise, any person who violates a formal quarantine/isolation order is subject to being arrested and detained in a secure quarantine/isolation facility.  Reno County Sheriff Darrian Campbell has arranged for accommodations in such a secure facility if necessary.

I am confident that I speak for the community, local law enforcement, and health officials, when I say we hope the involuntary commitment of any individual in a secure quarantine/isolation facility is never required.  The COVID-19 pandemic is also a local health emergency that affects everyone in our community.  In order to open our businesses back up, and return to some semblance of normalcy, we must all act responsibly.  This a community “we” thing, not an individual “I” thing.  We each have a responsibility to protect others.   Any person who selfishly violates a formal quarantine/isolation order will be appropriately dealt with as provided by Kansas law.   

Keith E. Schroeder
District Attorney
27th Judicial District
Hutchinson, Reno County, Kansas

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