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March 5, 2019, 8:47 PM GMT
By David K. Li
A Wisconsin man has been criminally charged with breaking a measles quarantine by leaving his home to go to the gym, according to court documents.
Jeffery Murawski, 57, of Brookfield, was charged Feb. 22 with a misdemeanor count of willfully violating the recommendations of a local health officer or subjecting others to danger of contracting a communicable disease.
His wife, Christine Bennett, 58, was charged with the same misdemeanor for allegedly aiding him in taking actions that could have exposed people in a public place to a communicable disease.
The charges stem from an incident on May 1, 2018, when Murawski was under quarantine in his home “until deemed non-contagious” by Waukesha County health officials or until May 7, 2018, a county court complaint states.
Murawski allegedly escaped his home by hiding inside a car driven by his wife. He went to a gym, although he later told police he stayed only a few minutes because “he felt very guilty and sick to his stomach” for deciding to go out.
He was spotted by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy who knew of the quarantine order on Murawski and saw him with a gym bag walking down a street to a parking lot where got in a car driven by his wife, the court complaint said.
A short time later, an on-duty deputy pulled over a car carrying Murawski and Bennett. The deputy asked Murawski, “Aren’t you supposed to be at home?” Murawski “put his head down and stated yes and began apologizing profusely,” according to the complaint.
Murawski allegedly admitted to breaking the quarantine because “he was going crazy,” having had to stay inside since April 26.
The quarantine placed on Murawski was the least-restrictive type possible, according to the complaint.
Although he was supposed to stay home at all times, his “immediate family members living within the residence (were allowed) to enter and leave the residence at any time as they had been vaccinated against the virus,” the complaint said.
It is unclear if Murawski had measles at the time or was under quarantine in case he was infected.
State health officials told NBC News they had no recorded cases of measles in Wisconsin last year, and a county health spokeswoman declined to discuss the suspect’s health, citing privacy laws.
“I can tell you when someone is quarantined, it is not because they have the measles, it is because that person was exposed and does not have proof of immunity,” state Department of Health Services spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsitt told NBC News.
“Someone with measles would be isolated,” she said.
The misdemeanor charges filed against Murawski and Bennett carry up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
It wasn’t immediately clear why Murawski and Bennett were charged in late February, nearly 10 months after the alleged violation.