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 Florida on Thursday reported a record 253 new coronavirus deaths, according to the latest NBC News tally of coronavirus cases and fatalities. Nationwide, the death toll from a pandemic that Trump has claimed would “just disappear” rose overnight to 152,717, NBC News figures show.
The grim new Florida death toll number came on the heels of state 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.”
And many Florida residents like Maria Bavaro of Lake Worth Beach are very angry. Bavaro told NBC News her 87-year-old father Antonio Franco was in an assisted living center when he died in May of COVID-19.
“I feel like we should’ve never put him there,” Bavaro said of her dad, a hard-working Korean War veteran from Brooklyn who raised three daughters. “I feel like the government failed him. I feel like the state of Florida failed him.”
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.
Suzanne Ciechalski is a New York-based reporter for NBC News’ Social Newsgathering team specializing in verification and social discovery.
News – Florida couple jailed for breaking COVID-19 quarantine