A Kentucky couple says they were placed under house arrest for refusing to sign self-quarantine documents after testing positive for COVID-19.
Elizabeth Linscott of Hardin County told WAVE that she got a COVID-19 test in preparation for a trip to visit her parents in Michigan. Linscott’s test came back positive. Shortly afterward, the Lincoln Trail District Health Department informed Linscott that she would need to sign a Self-isolation and Controlled Movement Agreed Order.
Linscott had no objection to quarantining herself. But she declined to sign, the Associated Press reports, because the order included this sentence: “I will not travel by any public, commercial or health care conveyance such as ambulance, bus, taxi, airplane, train or boat without the prior approval of the Department of Public Health.” If Linscott needed to go to the hospital, she did not want to wait for the health department’s permission. She would, however, take precautions, such as informing hospital workers that she had tested positive.
Last Thursday, the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office and a health department employee appeared at her home. There, Linscott’s husband was served three papers: one for his wife, one for himself, and one for their daughter. The Linscotts claim that they were told to wear ankle monitors to ensure that they remained within 200 feet of their home.
While the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office was unable to provide Reason with its protocols for enforcing quarantine, it did release a statement via Facebook about the case:
According to the sheriff’s office, any petition filed against the Linscotts was initiated by the Lincoln Trail District Health Department and any quarantine orders would be issued by a judge. The sheriff’s office also denied installing monitoring devices.
Linscott told WAVE that the health department director had claimed to the judge that the couple was refusing to self-quarantine. Linscott maintains that her decision was mischaracterized and that she merely disliked how the document was worded.
Under Kentucky law, the Louisville Courier Journal reports, county health departments have the power to isolate contagious people who don’t stay at home. The law does not state a penalty for objecting to or breaking quarantine orders.
If the Linscotts’ account is accurate, and the authorities not only ignored reasonable objections from citizens and placed them under house arrest, but also lied about it, this is a deeply troubling turn for civil liberties in Hardin County.