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The Legal Brief

Kanawha Judge Issues Order for Ankle Monitors for Violators of COVID-19 Quarantine

April 7, 2020

By: Thomas J. Hurney Jr.

On the heels of the declaration of a judicial emergency, a Kanawha County judge entered an order granting authority to the Kanawha County Sheriff and the  Kanawha County Health Department “authority to, upon both parties agreement and when it is has become necessary to quarantine or isolate and restrict public movement of an individual who is infected or likely infected with COVID19, place a global positioning system (GPS) electronic ankle monitor on any individual who is Ordered to quarantine by the Kanawha Charleston Health Department.”

The order appears to have come about from a request by the Kanawha Charleston Health Department that “individuals positive or likely positive for COVID-19 who fail to self-quarantine for fourteen (14) days and if it shall become necessary, be guarded by the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department until such time as their period of quarantine is ended.”

The order reviews federal and state declarations of a “State of Emergency” due to the COVOID-19 crisis, particularly orders directing that individuals who are positive for COVID-19 to “self-quarantine for a period of fourteen (14) days.”

The order cites the statutory authority granted local health authorities to “implement and terminate” quarantine to “prevent spread of communicable disease or to protect the public from other health hazards….”  This authority extends to enforcement, as West Virginia Code 16-3-2 provides authority to county boards of health to confine infected persons, or any person liable to spread such infection, “to the house or premises in which he resides” and if necessary, “summon sufficient guard for the enforcement of their orders in the premises.”

The order finds it likely that the Kanawha County Sheriff will called upon to enforce quarantine orders, which “will be financially burdensome and may result a shortage of available deputies for essential law enforcement duties.” As a result, the order authorizes the use of global positioning system (GPS) monitors “on any individual who is Ordered to quarantine.”  


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