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King County judge won't block coronavirus quarantine site in Kent

King County is converting a motel in downtown Kent to quarantine COVID-19 patients.

KENT, Wash. — A judge has denied a request by the city of Kent to block King County from using a motel within city limits as a coronavirus quarantine site. 

Kent Mayor Dana Ralph asked Kent City Attorney Tammy White to file a temporary restraining order against King County to block the location as a public health facility. Kent officials said King County failed to get permits and did not answered the city's questions about ensuring the safety of Kent residents.

Shortly after Kent announced they would be taking legal action, a King County Superior Court judge denied the request. 

The city of Kent released the following statement after the judge's denial: “The Mayor is disappointed in the ruling but grateful the court recognizes our serious concerns. The ruling allows the County to house up to 15 people at the public health quarantine facility. We will continue our fight in court next week and are hopeful for a positive outcome. We are still confident a solution can be reached if the County applies for the proper permits and agrees to reasonable conditions for public health and safety.”   

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Kent officials say that the the county has not secured permits or addressed the city’s concerns about public safety.

King County Executive Dow Constantine earlier this week announced the county's plans to purchase the motel for $4 million. According to the county, the Econo Lodge was the only site on the market that met King County Public Health's criteria for a quarantine location, including separate HVAC units in each room and separate doors for each unit that open to the outside, not a hallway. 

Ralph told KING 5 earlier this week that she was worried about the public health and safety implications of the quarantine site, including a lack of restrictions keeping patients inside the facility. If patients were free to leave and visit nearby businesses, it could create a public health hazard.

“We firmly believe this is an equity issue," Ralph said on Wednesday. "The county intends to bring sick people from wealthier and less diverse communities and drop them off in Kent without regard for our community or the people in it.”

The Econo Lodge is one of several sites throughout King County that public health officials plan to use for isolating coronavirus patients. 

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