Kentucky forces coronavirus patients to wear ankle monitors as US death toll soars

The extreme measure was introduced as the coronavirus crisis tightened its grip on the country where the death toll rose by 1,000 in a single day for the first time and 90 percent of Americans are now on lockdown. State officials insist the move is essential to protect other citizens from the potentially deadly contagion.

We can monitor activity after the device gets affixed to them to make sure they’re not further affecting the community

Amy Hess

Amy Hess, the chief of public services in the city of Louisville, told the Courier-Journal newspaper: “The home incarceration program is well-suited for this.

“It provides us with the proper amount of distancing. We can monitor activity after the device gets affixed to them to make sure they’re not further affecting the community.

“We would prefer not to have to do it at all.”

A judge told the paper he had ordered a couple to wear the ankle monitors because he had heard that one of them was walking around in public after testing positive.

It was also reported that the corrections officer sent to tag the pair subsequently suffered a 101F fever and was being tested for coronavirus.

Not everybody involved with the ankle monitor program is happy with it.

Tracy Dotson, spokeswoman for the union that represents Kentucky’s corrections officers, said members were unhappy about enforcing the measures.

She said: “These people aren’t charged with a crime. For my people on the ground, that’s a concern for them.”

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Earlier, the Trump administration looked set to join local officials in advising Americans to wear masks if they do venture outdoors.

Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would in the coming days add a recommendation on masks to guidelines on protective measures.

But Ms Birx said Americans, almost all of whom have been told to stay at home except for essential outings, should not develop a “false sense of security” that they are fully protected from the respiratory illness by covering their faces.

Mr Trump, answering questions from reporters at the briefing, said: “If people want to wear them, they can.”

The US coronavirus death toll has soared to 5,887, with more than 243,000 cases across all 50 states.

White House medical experts have forecast that between 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could be killed, even if the sweeping lock-down orders are followed.

The mayors of New York City and Los Angeles have both urged residents to cover their faces.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio cited studies showing the virus can be transmitted by infected people who are showing no symptoms.

He said: “What that means is when you put on that face covering you’re protecting everyone else.”

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The Democratic mayor suggested New Yorkers use scarves or other home-made masks because medical-grade protective gear was in short supply.

An emergency stockpile of medical equipment maintained by the US government has nearly run out of protective clothing for doctors and nurses.

In New York City, where at least 1,400 people have been killed by the virus, hospitals and morgues struggled to treat the desperately ill and bury the dead.

Funeral homes and cemetery directors described a surge in demand not seen in decades as cases surpassed 50,000 in the city.

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