TB Double Standard?

Last week, I was only peripherally following the case of Andrew Speaker. He's the guy who flew to Greece to get married and it was found out that he had a form of drug-resistant tuberculosis. There was a lot of media coverage about who was exposed on the airplane, and the process of contacting all these people. Apparently, Friday, he went on national television to apologize.

Right now, Speaker is under US government quarantine (the first since 1963) while he is undergoing further evaluation and treatment. His medical plan is to stay in a Denver hospital for possibly two months to receive antibiotics and possibly surgery.

As I was reading this story, there were aspects of this that sounded kind of familiar to a previous post that I wrote. Then, it hit me. I wrote two months ago about Robert Daniels (pictured above - image credit) and his ordeal in Arizona.

Daniels moved from Russia to Arizona and it was found out that he has drug resistant tuberculosis. Reports state that he refused treatment or even to wear a mask. For these reasons Daniels ended up in jail and is still there to this day (Read TB patient in jail for more details and an interesting comment section).

I started asking myself: How can one guy be under federal quarantine and placed in a hospital, and another guy be under state/local quarantine and placed in jail? As I did more research, I found this article on MSNBC/Newsweek.

Robert Daniels has been confined to his small, cinder-block room for nine months so far and he doesn’t know when his confinement will end. He has one barred window that is frosted over so little light shines through, a metal toilet with a metal sink and he spends most of his day in bed. He hasn’t had a hot shower since his detention and has to bathe with sanitary wipes, since he has only been allowed out of his room once. But Daniels is not a criminal, and has not yet been charged with any crime. Instead he is a tuberculosis patient who was quarantined at the Maricopa County hospital in Phoenix last July after failing to wear his mask in public.

While tuberculosis patient Andrew Speaker, at the center of a media storm this week, was the first person since 1963 to be quarantined by the federal government, some others, like Daniels, are detained by local and state officials.

[A]fter Speaker's case went public, [ACLU attorney Linda] Cosme says she will be filing a motion to move Daniels' case to federal jurisdiction. "Speaker's treatment is much better," Cosme says. "While Robert acknowledges that he should be quarantined, he should be allowed out to exercise his legs and be in the sun." As long as he’s wearing that mask.

Is there a double standard here with one quarantine in a hospital and the other quarantine in a jail? Well, the ACLU is going to make an argument for this. Do I agree? If these cases where similar, then I would say, yes, there has to be consistency here.

But, I think there are more differences than similarities in these two cases. Daniels was pretty adamant about not wearing a mask in public, lied about not wearing a mask, and didn't follow other public health recommendations. These choices landed him in jail.

Meanwhile, Speaker was already in Europe when he learned of his disease state. Granted, he ignored health official recommendations not to take a long flight home, but I'm willing to give him a pass on this (I'm starting to hear the hypocrite chants) because the guy was scared and thought he was going to die. Plus, since getting home, he states he's been feeling guilty about taking those long flights and has been apologizing to anyone who will listen.

Is there a double standard going on here? Am I being a hypocrite here? Well, you be the judge (and I know you'll let me know). These cases will be more and more interesting as they continue to unfold.