Fort Worth Gives Power to Quarantine if Someone Refuses to Self-Isolate

Fort Worth Emergency management staff have found a gap sometimes exists between when a person with an infection is identified and when the county health authority is able to obtain the quarantine mandate, called a control order.

by Luke Ranker, Fort Worth Star-Telegram / March 26, 2020
AP
(TNS) - The Fort Worth City Council has granted staff the power to quarantine sick people who are unwilling to isolate themselves.

That’s a power already held by Tarrant County’s medical director and health authority, Dr. Catherine Colquitt. If a person is infected with a dangerous communicable disease, like the novel coronavirus, Colquitt’s office can obtain a court order forcing them to quarantine.

But city emergency management staff have found a gap sometimes exists between when a person with an infection is identified and when the county health authority is able to obtain the quarantine mandate, called a control order, said Brandon Bennett, the city’s code compliance director and health officer.

“Most certainly what brings this to mind is addressing those folks that either do not have the mental capacity or the desire to protect their own health or the health of others, when they have tested positive for carrying the virus,” Bennett said.

The city’s ordinance, approved Thursday during an emergency meeting, grants the health officer the ability to quarantine a sick person who can’t or won’t voluntarily quarantine themselves for up to 24 hours. The power is only applicable if the city has declared a public emergency or disaster related to a health crisis, such as the current coronavirus-related disaster in effect through April 7.

Tarrant County reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to 100.

The new cases in Tarrant County included two in Fort Worth, one in Arlington, one in Grand Prairie, one in Grapevine, one in Haltom City, one in North Richland Hills, one in Watauga, one in Westlake and one in unincorporated Tarrant County.
The new coronavirus causes a flu-like illness that may lead to dangerous respiratory issues and death.

In response to the virus, the city and county have shut down non-essentail businesses and ordered residents to stay home through April 7.
 
The city’s stay at home ordinance originally expired April 3 since mayoral decrees expire after seven days. The council voted to extend the order to match Tarrant County.
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