Woman with Tuberculosis Refuses Treatment and Eludes Authorities in Tacoma, Washington

A woman in Tacoma, Washington, with tuberculosis, identified only as V.N. in court documents, has been found in contempt of court orders after refusing to isolate and receive treatment.[0] A civil arrest warrant was issued for V.N. in early March, but she has remained free as she continues to elude authorities.[1] A court-appointed visitor has said they have been unable to get in touch with V.N. or her family since a scheduled appointment in early March. A law enforcement officer was recently directed to surveil V.N. to determine her habits in order to execute the warrant in a safe manner. During that surveillance, the officer witnessed V.N. leave her residence, get onto a city bus, and arrive at a local casino.[2] The officer received instructions to discontinue surveillance “until a later date.”[0]

Health officials have been working with V.N. for over a year to get her to comply with treatment requirements or isolation requirements for tuberculosis.[3] Seeking to enforce a court order through a civil arrest warrant is always the last resort, according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. However, V.N.'s failure to comply with the court's orders has required further action, up to and including detention in Pierce County Jail, according to Denise Stinson, communicable disease control program manager for the health department.[3]

Law enforcement has a civil arrest warrant that authorizes them to detain V.N., who is still refusing treatment, according to a statement from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.[2] A judge ordered for V.N.'s involuntary detention, testing, and treatment.[0] Pierce County Sheriff's Department officers have been assigned to the case, but V.N. has not cooperated with them. The detention center in the vicinity, where she may be held, is equipped with negative pressure rooms that are designed to curb the transmission of communicable illnesses such as tuberculosis.[1]

The case has been ongoing for more than a year, and health officials have been balancing the risk to the public and the civil liberties of V.N. Seeking to enforce a court order through a civil arrest warrant is always the last resort. Authorities hope that V.N. will voluntarily comply with treatment and isolate to protect herself and others.

0. “Tacoma woman with tuberculosis refusing treatment found in contempt of court orders” KING5.com, 7 Apr. 2023, https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/tacoma/tacoma-woman-tuberculosis-found-contempt-court-orders/281-de676b4d-e710-4d38-98a0-7700d5843489

1. “Tuberculosis-Infected Woman Still Going Out in Public Despite Arrest Warrant” Gizmodo, 7 Apr. 2023, https://gizmodo.com/tuberculosis-washington-woman-arrest-warrant-public-1850312606

2. “Woman with untreated TB is on the lam, took city bus to casino” Ars Technica, 7 Apr. 2023, https://arstechnica.com/science/2023/04/woman-with-untreated-tb-is-on-the-lam-took-city-bus-to-casino/

3. “Woman in Tacoma TB case reportedly rode bus, went to casino” Tacoma News Tribune, 7 Apr. 2023, https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/article274042570.html

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