A Key West couple accused of violating a quarantine order in late July after testing positive for coronavirus will be arraigned in court Sept. 22.
The two, who have pleaded not guilty to the charges, were originally scheduled for court in late August, but the threat of Tropical Storm Laura forced its postponement.
State Attorney Dennis Ward told Keys Weekly that prosecutor Val Winter will ask Judge Mark Wilson for 60 days jail time for each of the two counts: violating quarantine and violating disaster response regulations.
“This is a serious health issue and public health risk,” Ward said in mid-August. “We want people to know we’re serious about protecting this community.”
The couple, a 24-year-old man and his 26-year-old wife, live on Harris Avenue. The man reportedly was walking his dog near his home when a neighbor began recording him on her cellphone. The police later came knocking with an arrest warrant and took both people to jail.
Officials told ABC News that the couple learned they were infected on July 15, five days after being tested.
“They were advised to wear face masks at home, which is a three-bedroom house the couple shares with at least three other tenants. And they were required to self-isolate for at least 14 days,” ABC News reported. “But the Florida Department of Health determined them to ‘present an immediate danger of harm to others’ when the department learned the couple had gone to the grocery store on July 20 while possibly still infected. A day later, the agency issued a mandatory quarantine order against the couple.”
The two were released from jail within a day after posting bail and expressed disbelief over the misdemeanor charges. They told the media the arrests were the result of a soured relationship with another tenant.