Image by Omnilink/Victor Tangermann

An ominous scoop by The Courier-Journal, a local paper in Kentucky: judges in the state are ordering coronavirus patients to isolate — a demand they're enforcing by making them wear ankle monitors, as if they were under house arrest.

"The home incarceration program is well-suited for this," Amy Hess, Louisville's chief of public services, told the newspaper. "It provides us with the proper amount of distancing. We can monitor activity after (the monitoring 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," Hess added.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is believed by scientists to be highly contagious. Public health experts have widely suggested that the public stay home and avoid unnecessary contact to slow the spread of the disease and avoid unnecessary strain on hospitals.

Sometimes, as in Kentucky, that can lead to messy conflicts between individual liberty and the wellbeing of the public.

One judge told the Courier-Journal that he had ordered a pair of individuals who lived together to wear the ankle monitors because he had heard that one of them was "walking around" in public after testing positive. Only one of the pair tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a messy twist, the paper also reported that a corrections officer who had been dispatched to attach the ankle monitors had subsequently suffered a 101-degree fever, and was being tested for coronavirus.

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

"These people aren't charged with a crime," said Tracy Dotson, a spokesperson for the union that represents the corrections officers involved in the ankle monitors, in an interview with the Courier-Journal. "For my people on the ground, that's a concern for them."