A traveler who broke quarantine at the Lakeview Inn isolation and quarantine facility in Centralia and disrupted traffic along Interstate 5 last week was an isolated incident, a state Department of Health spokesperson said Tuesday.
“If a guest decides to leave prior to the end of their isolation and quarantine period, DOH works with them to identify other options available to them where they could safely complete their isolation and quarantine period, like staying with friends or family,” public information officer Cory Portner wrote in an email to The Chronicle.
The incident occurred Tuesday, Oct. 19, after a man who was flying from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Alaska was transported to the facility following a positive COVID-19 test, The Olympian first reported.
The Centralia facility is often used by the state to house close-contact and coronavirus-positive travelers, as well as shipping crews, Department of Correction work release inmates and other people who don’t fall under a county’s purview of care.
Patients are admitted on a voluntary basis.
According to The Olympian’s report, the man allegedly became upset after his arrival and “left the quarantine facility against the doctor’s recommendation and started walking toward Seattle,” Trooper Robert Reyer told The Olympian.
DOH staff were aware of his departure at the time and let him leave.
“DOH is on site 24/7, and as a result was immediately aware that the individual was leaving on their own accord. DOH provided information to local public health counterparts and the Washington State Patrol in effort (to) aid the individual and to help ensure the appropriate continued care was able to be provided,” Portner wrote.
The Washington State Patrol began receiving calls at about 2:22 p.m. about a man walking between the northbound and southbound Interstate 5 lanes. When troopers arrived, he reportedly crossed the northbound lanes.
The Olympian reports he also called 911 several times, indicating he had COVID-19 and was suicidal.
Troopers eventually apprehended the individual on trespassing charges after he fled into a wooded area near 113th Avenue. Parts of I-5 were shut down during the incident.
Portner said DOH has no intention of charging the man, who was involuntarily committed into Providence St. Peter Hospital after the incident.
“DOH Incident Management Team conducted an after action review with staff, and consulted with the Incident Management Team’s Behavioral Health Strike Team during and following the incident,” he said.
The Lakeview Inn location became controversial earlier this year after the state Department of Health occupied the site without consulting city and county officials. The department has since apologized and promised to communicate with local authorities in the future.