Man awaiting test results leaves Washington state quarantine facility

FILE PHOTO: King County officials say a homeless man who was awaiting coronavirus test results left the Kent quarantine facility Friday and got onto a Metro bus. (John Moore/Getty Images)
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FILE PHOTO: King County officials say a homeless man who was awaiting coronavirus test results left the Kent quarantine facility Friday and got onto a Metro bus. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Credit: John Moore/Getty Images

Credit: John Moore/Getty Images

King County officials say a homeless man who was awaiting coronavirus test results left the Kent quarantine facility Friday and got onto a Metro bus.

"My fears for this facility have come true," Kent Mayor Dana Ralph, who's been opposed to the facility, said in a Facebook post Friday.

Since the man was awaiting test results, it is not known if he has the virus.

Earlier this month, King County purchased an empty Econo Lodge motel in Kent, just off Highway 167, to house coronavirus patients for recovery and isolation. The space is for people who aren't sick enough to go to the hospital, yet can't be in isolation at home; for instance, someone who is homeless or who has an immunocompromised family member.

Since the county announced it was buying the motel, Kent’s mayor and police chief, as well as businesses and neighbors, voiced their concerns about whether the facility would be secure. A temporary restraining order was filed against King County to keep the facility from opening, but it was denied by a judge.

According to the county, a homeless man awaiting test results for the coronavirus took a room at the motel Thursday. At about 7:30 a.m. Friday, the man disregarded the instructions of an on-site security guard and left the motel.

He then crossed Central Avenue North and entered a gas station convenience store, where he may have shoplifted items before taking a Route 153 Metro bus northbound. The bus was taken out of service to be cleaned and sanitized. Watch surveillance video of the man here.

During a Friday news conference, Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla said he learned about the incident when the owner of the gas station called and said a patient from the quarantine site had shoplifted a doughnut. Police were not notified by county health officials or the King County executive's office, Padilla said. Watch the news conference here.

Because the quarantine is voluntary, the county doesn’t have the authority to detain people against their will, Ralph said at a Friday news conference.

King County said in a Friday news release that it is shifting the Kent and White Center quarantine sites to help people who do not need supportive social services, such as the homeless.