UPDATED: After Hurricane man under quarantine is seen in community, police say they will enforce criminal charges

2019 file photo of Hurricane City Police vehicle, Hurricane, Utah, June 7, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

HURRICANE — Hurricane City Police Chief Lynn Excell announced Thursday evening during the Hurricane City Council meeting that a man who has been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 has been seen in the community. (See Ed. Note). People who defy quarantine orders may be subject to criminal charges.

Excell spoke with the man — who has not tested positive for COVID-19 — by telephone Friday morning. According to a press release issued by the police department, the conversation was positive and the man told the chief he would comply with protective quarantine measures.

During Thursday’s meeting, Excell said the most recent data of people infected with the coronavirus showed 30 in the region, seven hospitalizations and one death. In Hurricane, there are two people in isolation and three under quarantine.

After Gov. Gary Herbert issued an order Wednesday at 3 p.m., it is now a “criminal offense for someone to be under quarantine and be out in our community,” Excell said.

Council member Joseph Prete asked Excell about the criminal offense for people under quarantine.

Excell said that anybody directed by the Southwest Public Health Department to be under quarantine is subject to being charged with a class B misdemeanor for the first violation and a class A misdemeanor after that.

“So that would include returned missionaries?” Prete asked.

“Yeah, it would,” Excell said. “If the state health department has ordered them to be home, and they’re out walking in the community – yes, they could be criminally charged as well.”

Excell said the police department is taking this seriously, and they are going to do everything they can to protect the health, safety and well-being of the community.

In other related business, Excell also gave updates Thursday on how the city is preparing for and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said they are working with the police officers to let them know the proper times to put on the protective gear.

In general, calls for service are on the down slope, Excell said. However, family fights, suspicious incidents and psychiatric calls have seen an increase in the city.

Excell said this is the third big disaster he has gone through during his career with the Hurricane City Police Department.

“A lot of people got caught behind the 8-ball on this one, for a lot reasons,” he said, “but we’re doing our very best to try to get supplies for everybody in the city – as far as the city crews. And as things possibly free up, we want to make sure families are protected.”

Excell said that he’s been impressed by the local outreach and support. Walmart made them aware Thursday that they were planning to donate a fair amount of disinfectant products to the police department, and Hurricane Family Pharmacy has made hand sanitizer that they donated to the police department. The pharmacy also has the sanitizer for sale.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office is also working to send supplies, including between 200 to 500 N95 respirator masks, he said, adding that he got a call from the health department in order to update all the points of distribution.

“There’s only a few times they want to update the numbers and make sure everything’s correct for the POD (points of distribution),” he said. “I don’t know whether something’s coming down the road or not, but we are ready.”

Editor’s note: This report was corrected and revised to indicate that the man who police said left his house during quarantine measures has not tested positive for the coronavirus but has instead been in close contact with someone who tested positive.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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