An employee of Warren County E-911 who has been exposed to COVID-19 and is symptomatic for the virus has faced tremendous backlash from the community after shopping for medication during their quarantine in defiance of state and local COVID-19 mandates and state law.
In a social media exchange, the employee admitted to being symptomatic after exposure to the virus, but insisted they required the medication and had no other choice but to get it themselves. The employee has since shut down their Facebook page.
In response to inquiries from the Vicksburg Daily News E-911 Director Shane Garrard provided the following brief statement: “E-911 has been made aware of the situation and is conducting an investigation.”
The employee stated in the social media post that they went to obtain a COVID-19 test but was turned away. The Vicksburg Daily News has been advised they have since been tested, but the results of the COVID-19 test have not been released.
Any person who tests positive for COVID-19 is under state and local mandate to self-quarantine to prevent further spread of the virus. The Mississippi Department of Health states on its website that close contact with someone who has COVID-19 indicates the need for quarantine at home for 14 days.
Mississippi state law (41-23-5) makes it clear that the state has the authority to “investigate and control the causes of epidemic, infectious and other disease affecting the public health, including the authority to establish, maintain and enforce isolation and quarantine…”
The law puts the power of enforcement into the hands of MSDH. “The State Department of Health is further authorized and empowered to require the temporary detainment of individuals for disease control purposes based upon violation of any order of the State Health Officer. For the purpose of enforcing such orders of the State Health Officer, persons employed by the department as investigators shall have general arrest powers. All law enforcement officers are authorized and directed to assist in the enforcement of such orders of the State Health Officer.”
Violation of the law is a felony punishable with up to $5,000 and five years in jail.