A Florida couple on Key West that tested positive for the coronavirus was arrested for defying a quarantine order, local officials said Thursday.
Neighbors videotaped Jose Antonio Freire Interian and Yohana Anahi Gonzalez flouting the requirement and then handed the telltale tape over to the Key West police, authorities said.
“There were complaints from the neighborhood of them continuing to be outside, going about normal life functions,” Key West City Manager Greg Veliz told The Miami Herald. “An officer took the video to the judge and the judge signed the warrant.”
Interian, 24, and Gonzalez, 27, appear to be among the first people who have been jailed in Florida for breaking quarantine.
“As far as I know, these are the first arrests of this kind in Monroe County,” Brandie Peretz, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County, told NBC News.
Word of their arrest came as the state on Thursday reported a record 253 new coronavirus deaths, according to the latest NBC News tally of coronavirus cases and fatalities.
The grim new number came on the heels of Florida health officials reporting 216 deaths on Wednesday and 186 deaths of Tuesday, both of which were new daily highs in a pandemic that has been hitting the state especially hard in recent months.
So far, Florida has logged a total of 456,105 cases and 6,586 deaths, according to state statistics.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, has been harshly criticized for his handling of the coronavirus crisis and stoked more anger earlier this month by referring to the rising case numbers as a “blip.”
Nationwide, the death toll from a pandemic that Trump has claimed would “just disappear” rose overnight to 152,717, NBC News figures show.
Interian and Gonzalez, who had been ordered to quarantine after testing positive on July 21, were taken into custody Wednesday evening, Adam Linhardt, a spokesman for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, told NBC News. They were sent to the Stock Island Detention Center where they were placed in “negative pressure rooms” where the air is not recirculated into other parts of the jail.
“The idea is to keep them apart from the general population and keep them in a place where they can’t infect anybody else,” Linhardt said. “We’ve had people in those rooms before we’ve suspected of having it. If they show symptoms, that’s where people are quarantined.”
Each was hit with misdemeanor charges of violating the state law that requires isolation or quarantine in a public health emergency and violating emergency management.
Conviction on those charges could result in up to 60 days behind bars.
Interian posted bond and was released early Thursday while Gonzalez remains behind bars, Linhardt said.
In other coronavirus-related developments:
- Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain died at age 74 from complications from COVID-19. Cain had tested positive a week after he attended Trump’s June 20 campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While it wasn’t immediately clear where he contracted the deadly virus, Cain had defended the event, writing in an op-ed, “The media worked very hard to scare people out of attending the Trump campaign rally last Saturday night in Tulsa.” Cain was also photographed not wearing a mask at the rally. Several Trump campaign staffers and others also tested positive for COVID-19 after the rally.
- Jobless claims rose for a second week in a row while the GDP fell by a record 33 percent as the thriving economy Trump inherited from his predecessor continued to be battered by the pandemic. More than 1.43 million people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, according to the Department of Labor. It was the second-straight week that the number has risen, and the 19th week in a row that the U.S. had seen more than a million claims.