South Sound News

Tacoma officials address detainment of woman with tuberculosis

After a months-long search and a judge ordering her to receive treatment multiple times, a Pierce County woman with tuberculosis has been located and detained by deputies Thursday.

A Pierce County court mandated her to comply with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) to isolate and receive treatment.

On Thursday, officials with TPCHD and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spoke about the detainment and what is next for the woman and the community.

This morning, law enforcement transported the Tacoma woman who refused treatment for tuberculosis to the Pierce County Jail. She should be housed in a room specially equipped for isolation testing and treatment to reduce the risk of transmission in the jail,” said Nigel Turner, Division Director for Communicable Disease Control for TPCHD. “And we’re hopeful that she’ll choose the life-saving treatment she needs to treat her tuberculosis.”

According to Pierce County Sergeant Darren Moss, the woman was taken into custody at her home. She was put into a car with a separate cabin where the air would not affect the two deputies that brought her in.

The woman was taken to a negative pressure room at the Pierce County Jail, where the air is contained to that cell and pushed outside, so it doesn’t affect the rest of the facility.

Moss said the woman will remain there until there are orders to release her early. Any decision to release her will be made by the courts, he added.

Moss also said he couldn’t give an exact location of where she was picked up. She did not put up a fight when she was detained.

Turner said the cost to detain and treat this woman would be covered by the Health Department, using public funds. He did not provide an exact amount it would cost, adding, every case is different.

Turner said they rarely do enforced isolation, saying it has only happened three times in the last 20 years.

He was also asked why her name hasn’t been released as a means to warn people if they have had contact with her.

“That is a directive of the courts. Courts have kept her identity secret the whole time,” he answered.

In January, TPCHD sent an alert that it was monitoring an active case of tuberculosis in a Tacoma woman.

Officials attempted to persuade her and her family to receive treatment, but she declined.

In March, a judge issued a civil arrest warrant for the woman, allowing law enforcement to arrest her.

In April, a Tacoma police officer watched the woman get on city bus and visit a casino, as she continued to ignore the court order.