In an official statement on Independence Day, the Brooks County attorney warned that residents who test positive for COVID-19 would be arrested if they appear in public for any reason other than to receive medical care.
County Attorney David Garcia said in his warning that residents would be charged with violating Texas Penal Code 22.05(a), which makes it a Class A misdemeanor to “recklessly [engage] in conduct that places another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.”
A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
“If you’re going to go out and endanger other people, and we find out about it, we will prosecute you,” Garcia said to an ABC station in South Texas.
“People have not really embraced the dangers of COVID-19. It’s dangerous. It’s killing people, and it’s making people very sick. So either do it because you’re concerned about others or do it because you’re going to be punished if you don’t.”
No one in Brooks County has died from the coronavirus, and the county has seen only 11 total cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
The city manager of Laredo gave a similar warning on Monday, saying that coronavirus patients who fail to quarantine and cooperate with contact tracers would be prosecuted.
However, Laredo officials offered a different statute to substantiate their warning, saying violators would be charged under the Texas Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Act, which makes it a third degree felony to disobey a lawful quarantine order or other official rule during a deadly viral outbreak.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.