School canceled, health officials issue stern warning to Missouri family that broke coronavirus quarantine

A father took his daughter to a school function despite quarantine instructions.

March 9, 2020, 12:03 PM

A family in Missouri broke health officials' self-quarantine instructions after two family members left their home despite a positive test for the novel coronavirus.

St. Louis County executive Dr. Sam Page revealed in a press conference that the family of an unidentified patient who recently tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 violated the county Health Department's instructions to isolate themselves at home.

According to Page, a woman called their coronavirus hotline on Thursday experiencing symptoms and has since tested positive for coronavirus.

Instead of heeding the health officials' guidance, the patient's father, according to Page, took his other daughter to a school function Saturday evening.

In a since-deleted Facebook post, Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School shared photos from the school's "father-daughter dinner dance."

Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School campuses in Frontenac, Mo.
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The private Catholic school shared an update Sunday on Facebook, writing that classes and other activities would be canceled on Monday "to gather information and guidance from health officials."

"The health and safety of our students, staff and their families will always be our top priority," the school said. "We apologize for the inconvenience caused by this situation. We are taking this important step out of an abundance of caution. We will communicate more information to all of our families via email as early as possible on Monday."

Page explained at the press conference on Saturday that when officials learned of the broken quarantine, county health directors informed the man "that he must remain in his home or they will issue a formal quarantine that will require him and the rest of his family to stay in their home by the force of law."

According to Missouri statute, someone who is issued a formal quarantine and "evades or breaks quarantine" could be found guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

He called it "a tale of two reactions" and "a study of how people should and should not react to the coronavirus."

"From everything we can gather, the patient had conducted herself responsibly and maturely and she is to be commended for complying with the health department's instructions," Page said. "The patient's father did not act consistently with the health department's instructions."

The county is planning to implement state-of-the-art strategies and provide information through it's various channels including the hotline, website and social media to disseminate resources and updates on coronavirus.

Page reiterated the importance of hand washing, covering mouths when sneezing or coughing, staying home if sick and following all the CDC recommendations -- especially if you have been in contact with anyone who is symptomatic.

County health officials have communicated their expectations for the family in a letter and Page said he expects them to follow the quarantine guidelines.

A similar case occurred in New Hampshire where one presumptive positive patient, who works at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, allegedly ignored a directive to self-isolate and attended an invitation-only event on Feb. 28, health officials said. Health Department officials then attempted to track down all the attendees and instruct them to follow the recommended 14-day self-isolation.

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