A Florida man who tested positive for COVID-19 and was busted along with his wife in Key West for allegedly violating a quarantine order insisted Friday he was just walking their dog and not trying to endanger anyone.
“I didn’t do anything,” 24-year-old Freire Interian told The Associated Press. “I was just walking my dog. It’s not as if I left the house to go shopping.”
Interian spoke out as the coronavirus continued to cut a deadly swath through Florida with the state breaking its daily death record for the fourth day in a down with 257 new fatalities, according to the latest NBC News tally.
The numbing new figure was reported on the heels of Florida notching 253 deaths on Thursday, 216 on Wednesday, and 186 more on Tuesday — all of which were new daily highs in a pandemic has turned the state into a COVID-19 hot spot.
Meanwhile, Florida was being menaced by Hurricane Isaias and Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency from Miami-Dade County all the way up the state’s Atlantic coastline – a stretch that includes the counties with the biggest numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
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As of Friday, Florida has reported 470,386 cases and 6,843 fatalities.
Nationwide, more than 4.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported along with 153,480 deaths, the NBC News figures show.
Interian was arrested along with his 27-year-old wife Yohana Anahi Gonzalez on Wednesday after neighbors videotaped them allegedly flouting the quarantine requirement, local officials have said.
They were each hit with misdemeanor charges of violating the state law that requires isolation or quarantine in a public health emergency and with violating emergency manages, conviction on which could send them both back to jail for up to 60 days.
Calling his arrest “unfair,” Interian said he was stunned when the Key West Police arrived at the house he shares with several other people.
“They knocked on the door real loud,” he said. “I opened the door. They told me, ‘Come on,’ and I asked them, ‘Why?’ I was in shock.”
Florida health officials, however, say Interian and Gonzalez learned they were infected on July 15 and were supposed to self-isolate for 14 days. But on July 20 they ventured out to a store and were caught doing so on video.
Interian and Gonzalez appear to be among the first people to be arrested in Florida for breaking quarantine. But they aren’t the first to run afoul of local quarantine regulations.
In Hawaii last month, 21 travelers were arrested for breaking the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine, none of whom wound up testing positive. And in May, a 37-year-old Kentucky woman infected with COVID-19 was charged with “wanton endangerment” and “criminal mischief” after she was caught shopping for groceries while she should have been in isolation. It was the third time she had defied a quarantine order.
In other coronavirus-related developments:
Corky Siemaszko is a senior writer for NBC News Digital.
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