BATAVIA — Two people who reportedly broke COVID-19 quarantine weeks ago by going out in public were told that if they violate public health quarantine orders again, they will be remanded to the custody of the sheriff.
The two have not violated the quarantine orders again since then, County Attorney Kevin Earl said.
At the Ways and Means Committee meeting Wednesday night, Earl and committee members talked about the incidents. The county has to pay $2,838 in legal expenses for the attorney who represented the two people. County officials say the money should be reimbursable through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as COVID-19 expenses. He did not say where the two were living.
“We had two individuals that broke their quarantine,” Earl said. “We had the necessity to go before Judge (Charles) Zambito, to get — this was two separate times — emergency orders.”
Earl said he used the word “arrested” during the committee meeting only to convey the possible outcome of these situations in layman’s terms.
He said the $2,838, which was paid to attorney Frederick Rarick, should be reimbursable.
“There was no reason for this other than the COVID response,” Earl said.
Legislator John Deleo asked whether, if the county isn’t reimbursed by FEMA, it could send the bill to the two people who broke quarantine.
Earl said, “If you might imagine, the individuals probably aren’t in a position, I believe, I don’t know that for a fact, to pay the bill.
“Usually, most people are pretty compliant. I don’t know if we could or couldn’t (require the two people to pay these costs), but certainly I would look into it,” he said.
Deleo agreed the $2,838 would probably be a reimbursable expense, but doesn’t want the county to be responsible for that cost.
Committee Chair Marianne Clattenburg said whether the county is reimbursed or not, it still has to take action to protect the community.
“We can’t have people that we know are infected and quarantined going out amongst the community,” she said. “When they were being monitored, it was found they were not staying in quarantine, they were actually going out into the community at the height of what was the community spread. That was a very serious thing that was happening. This is why this action was taken and I believe this was some weeks ago.”
County Manager Jay Gsell said the county Sheriff’s Office and Batavia City Police Department cooperated in monitoring the situation. He said Earl brought Rarick in to work with Zambito to keep the situation “as tight and controlled as possible.”
Clattenburg said she wants people to realize the county took the situation with the two people who violated quarantine very seriously.
“Those people that were a danger to others in the community and were being monitored for quarantine, when they were found not to be complying, we did take some action and this was the result of the expense that we have,” she said.
Legislator Gary Maha asked if the two people were actually taken to Monroe County. Earl said they weren’t. He said the Monroe County sheriff had opened up a facility. That county has a facility where it could provide medical treatment if necessary.
“As we had hoped, actually having the order personally served upon them and them knowing that if we just saw them one foot off the property they would immediately be taken into custody was enough,” he said. “Fortunately, we didn’t have to go to that step.
“I think there’s also a deterrent effect. Other people that these people know or other people that are reading about it or hearing about it now,” the county attorney said. “It will have a deterrent effect. We did not have to have them arrested, but we were ready if we did.”