The 53-year-old man in Nelson County refused to quarantine himself after testing positive for Covid-19, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said. Nelson County officials “forced an isolation” on the man, one of the first 20 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the state.
“It’s a step I hoped that I’d never have to take,” Beshear said in a conference on Saturday. “But I can’t allow one person who we know has this virus to refuse to protect their neighbors.”
Beshear didn’t share then how the government had forced the unnamed man to stay in his home. But this week, Nelson County Sheriff Ramon Pineiroa told the Kentucky Standard that deputies will park outside of the man’s home for 24 hours a day for two weeks. The patient is cooperating now, Pineiroa said.When reached for comment by CNN, the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department deferred all comments to Beshear.
Nelson County Judge Executive Dean Watts told CNN affiliate WDRB the measure was necessary to keep the community safe. “This is about us, not about ‘I,'” Watts said. “So quarantine is a must. If we have to, we’ll do it by force.”
Most state laws for imposing quarantines are fairly broad. Kentucky law gives the Cabinet for Health and Family Services the power to declare and “strictly maintain” quarantine and isolation as it sees fit, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The federal government hasn’t authorized national quarantines or isolations yet, but President Donald Trump has that power. Under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, a president can issue an executive order authorizing isolation or quarantine for several contagious diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndromes like Covid-19.