A Wisconsin husband and wife are facing charges after authorities say the man violated a measles quarantine with his wife’s help so he could go to the gym.
Jeffery Murawski, 57, and Christine Bennett, 58, of Brookfield were each charged last week with one misdemeanor count of exposing the public to a communicable disease for the alleged violation that took place last year, according to a copy of the criminal complaint.
Murawski had been ordered to stay inside his home from April 26 to May 7 or until he was deemed noncontagious by the Waukesha County health department. It’s not clear whether he had the highly infectious disease or just posed a risk, however.
A family member told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the quarantine was over his possible exposure to the virus. The county health department was unable to confirm that he had been vaccinated, the family member claimed.
On May 1, several days into his quarantine, an off-duty Waukesha County deputy reported seeing Murawski walk into his wife’s place of work with a gym bag and then back out to her car where she was waiting.
This was despite deputies being ordered to remain outside his home at all times to ensure he complied with the quarantine, which was described as the least restrictive. Immediate family members living at his home were allowed to come and go because they had been vaccinated, according to the complaint.
Murawski, when stopped and confronted by an on-duty deputy, allegedly said that he snuck out of his house by hiding in his wife’s car because he was “going crazy” from being inside. He initially denied having left his wife’s vehicle when asked but eventually admitted to having gone to the gym. He said he was there for only a few minutes, but was overcome with guilt, according to the deputy’s account.
Bennett allegedly also admitted to dropping her husband off at Gold’s Gym before heading to work, adding that it was against her better judgment.
The Waukesha County public health department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reached by NBC News suggested that the man’s quarantine was likely due to recent measles exposure.
“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,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsitt told the news network. “Someone with measles would be isolated.”
Both Murawski and Bennett face up to 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $ 500 for the misdemeanor charges, according to the complaint.
According to the state health department’s website, there have been no measles cases in Wisconsin since 2004.
A rise in measles cases across the country has triggered nationwide concern, however. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported cases in 11 states so far this year. Those states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
Outbreaks in four states so far this year ― New York, Washington, Texas and Illinois ― have been attributed to travelers who contracted the virus from other countries such as Israel and Ukraine, where large measles outbreaks are occurring, the CDC said.