A judge issued an arrest warrant in February for a woman with tuberculosis who was later seen taking a city bus to a casino, the authorities said.
A Washington State woman who for over a year refused a court order to receive treatment for tuberculosis was taken into custody on Thursday, more than three months after a civil warrant was issued for her arrest, the authorities said.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said in a statement that the woman, who has been identified in court documents only by the initials V.N., had been taken to the Pierce County Jail, where she would be housed in a room that is “specially equipped for isolation, testing and treatment.”
“We are hopeful she will choose to get the lifesaving treatment she needs to treat her tuberculosis,” the statement said.
Sgt. Darren Moss, a spokesman the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, said in an email on Friday that the woman was taken into custody without incident at her home on Thursday and was transported to the jail in a specially equipped vehicle that allowed her to remain isolated for the duration of the trip. He declined to say where the woman lived.
“As far as treatment and whether she gets out early, that is a question for the Health Department and the courts,” Sergeant Moss said. He emphasized that this was not a criminal case and that the Sheriff’s Department’s role was limited to detaining the woman and transporting her for treatment.
The Health Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, said on its website that it had been working with the woman’s family for over a year to persuade her “to take her medication to protect herself and our community.”
The Sheriff’s Department said in a news release that the woman would be held in a “negative pressure” room at the jail. Sergeant Moss described it as “a secure area that would not spread the disease and allows for her care and treatment.”
On. Feb. 24, Judge Philip Sorensen of Pierce County Superior Court issued a civil warrant for the woman’s arrest, authorizing law enforcement to detain her, after she refused to comply with previous orders to isolate or medicate herself. The warrant said she would be detained in a facility with access to testing and treatment until it could be determined she did not pose a public health threat.
Patricia Jackson, chief of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department Corrections Bureau, said in an April court filing that she had ordered surveillance of the woman to obtain information so that officers could arrest her safely.
That came after the woman ws seen leaving her home and taking a city bus to a local casino, the filing said. The officer said that in the following days, the woman was not at home and that her family did not respond to efforts to contact them.
On May 1, a person who identified himself as the woman’s son called the Health Department, according to court filings, and asked if his mother had missed a court hearing and when the next hearing would be held. The next hearing in the case had been scheduled for June 23.
According to a court filing from May 10, an officer with the Health Department, who was not named, had “determined, or has reason to believe” that the woman still had tuberculosis.
After the Health Department said on May 22 that she was still refusing treatment, Judge Sorensen extended the warrant for her arrest.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 8,300 reported cases of TB in the United States in 2022.
Washington State law requires health care providers to report all active cases of TB to a local health department. There are about 20 cases of active TB in Pierce County each year, according to the county Health Department. Most people with TB fully recover after taking medication, but TB can be deadly if left untreated.