Coronavirus: A US family accused of violating quarantine says they were never told to isolate themselves
- A Missouri family accused of violating requests to quarantine themselves amid a coronavirus outbreak has said they were never told to isolate themselves.
- The family's eldest daughter tested positive for coronavirus last week shortly after returning from a trip to Italy.
- St. Louis County officials said while they were waiting for test results, they repeatedly told the family to quarantine themselves.
- Instead, the father and younger daughter attended a school dinner-dance with hundreds of other students and parents.
- Amid uproar from their community, the family's attorney has said they were given "misinformation" and told media "there's no record to show that they were ever given any instruction regarding what to do and how to do it" regarding a quarantine.
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After days of backlash, a Missouri family accused of violating requests to quarantine themselves amid a coronavirus outbreak has spoken out through a lawyer, arguing they were never told to isolate themselves.
St. Louis County officials said they told the family repeatedly to quarantine themselves last week, after their daughter called a coronavirus hotline to report symptoms upon returning from a trip to Italy.
While the daughter, a woman in her 20s, was awaiting the test results, she remained at home, county officials said. But her father and younger sister attended a school dinner-dance at a Ritz-Carlton with nearly 300 other students and parents.
While they were at the event, they learned that the test results showed that the daughter with symptoms had tested positive and was a presumptive coronavirus case.
According to a school email that was later published on social media, the father and younger daughter left the dance immediately after learning of the test results.
Since then, the father and his family have been told if they don't self-quarantine they could be issued a "formal quarantine that will require him and the rest of his family to stay in their home by the force of law," St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said.
The community has been up in arms about the violation, expressing fury that the family potentially exposed them to the virus.
One woman whose nieces attended the school dinner-dance told The Washington Post she was worried for her 81-year-old mother and whether she could be exposed to the virus.
"This is absolutely unacceptable," Jenny Koziatek Benz told The Post. "What kind of person would do something like that?"
But the family's attorney, Neil Bruntrager, told local media outlets the family was given "misinformation".
Bruntrager told the local TV station KMOV4 that the family was told by their doctor, "My gut says you don't have [coronavirus]."
"Never, ever are they told that you have to quarantine," Bruntrager told the station. "There's no record to show that they were ever given any instruction regarding what to do and how to do it."
Though some critics have suggested the family face legal repercussions, experts have said it's not a good idea to criminally prosecute people who violate quarantine orders, as it could deter people from getting tested or treated.
"We certainly don't want people to think that they shouldn't get tested because if they do, they'll open themselves up to criminal liability, or a policeman at the door enforcing quarantine," Wendy Parmet, the faculty director of Northeastern University's Center for Health Policy and Law told The New York Times.
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