UPDATE FRIDAY MAR. 13, 2020 6 p.m.: Test results for the patient who left the King County quarantine facility Friday morning have come back NEGATIVE for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“We are both happy and relieved,” Mayor Dana Ralph said. “However, the situation our community faced earlier reinforces our need to hear a plan from the county to guarantee the safety and security of the Kent community including the patients they house at the quarantine facility.”
The City of Kent announced Friday morning, Mar. 13, 2020 that a patient being voluntarily quarantined at the county facility located at the former Econo Lodge Motel left the building, and was suspected of shoplifted at a gas station across the street, before boarding a bus headed north.
Security at the site tried to stop the patient, but he got away, crossed the street, then entered and allegedly shoplifted from the gas station store.
Here’s a screen grab of the suspect from security footage taken at the gas station:
Security then entered the store and warned management and customers about the potentially-infected suspect.
The city said this patient was awaiting test results, so they do not know if he has the virus or not.
“I have advised the county of this situation and they have assured me they are currently making a plan to address it,” Mayor Dana Ralph said. “My fears for this facility have come true. The things I predicted would happen now have happened. We realize we have a role to play in this crisis but we have asked repeatedly for actual security, real fencing and safety measures put in place for the general public and the patients at the facility.”
“I’m angry. I’m frustrated, and I’m concerned that our city has not been involved in this process with the county,” a frustrated Ralph added. “Everybody please continue to take safety precautions for yourself and your family.”
King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn issued the following statement in response to this incident:
“Shortly after Public Health announced the approach of housing suspected Coronavirus cases in locations throughout King County, I was given assurances that these quarantine facilities would be secured, and in the best interests of our residents during this crisis, supported Public Health in their need to site these facilities.
“I am extremely disappointed to hear that a quarantine patient left the facility in Kent and is now back in the general population.
“This loss of trust means I will have much more stringent standards when considering any proposed quarantine sites in King County.
“Moving forward, I will only support quarantine sites that clearly do not endanger the health and welfare of the surrounding residential and business community, and where patients quarantined at the facilities are held an appropriate amount of time, as determined by a medical professional. Finally, law enforcement must be present and provided with the authority to enforce Public Health’s guidelines at each site.”
As we previously reported, city officials had expressed strong concerns and even filed a Temporary Restraining Order against this voluntary quarantine facility, which was implemented by King County without any discussions with the city. The Econo Lodge – located at 1233 Central Ave N. – was reportedly purchased by the county for $4 million without the city’s knowledge or permits.
The county on Wednesday confirmed that this facility’s “first temporary resident” was now being housed at the facility.
Below is raw video of the city’s press conference held Friday morning (NOTE: if it doesn’t appear, you can watch it on the city’s Facebook page here):
The county’s quarantine facility – formerly the Econo Lodge Motel – is located at 1233 Central Ave N.: