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Florida Quarantined Tuberculosis Patients in Some Random Jacksonville Motel

Remember how the Palm Beach Post figured out that Florida covered up the worst tuberculosis outbreak in 20 years and that "the itinerant homeless, drug-addicted, mentally ill people at the core of the Jacksonville TB cluster are almost impossible to keep on their medications" and that they were stumbling all over Florida, coughing their guts out while the public knew nothing? Well, they did, and it was so crazy, and everybody got really worked up about it because Florida at the same time had also closed its only TB hospital.

A new detail? As it turns out, closing the state's only TB hospital means patients were quarantined at a $35-a-night motel.

A Post story posted last night reveals that officials attempted to fight a Jacksonville TB outbreak by sending patients to the Monterey Motel, where they were told to stay until they weren't contagious anymore. Motel cleaning staffers were simply told to enter the rooms after the patients had been out for half an hour and to "handle trash carefully," according to the Post. They also point out that "typically, physicians and other health care workers will don special air filtering masks while in enclosed places with TB patients."

You can check out the Post's story for the details, but here's one more quote in reference to a now-frenzied effort to test Jacksonville's homeless for TB, eight months after health officials discovered the outbreak and almost a month after the state shut down the hospital:

On a recent weekday, a line snaked around the Clara White Mission starting before dawn, as homeless men and women lined up to have blood drawn by health department workers. "I know people who died," said Lawrence Webb, who rode up on a bicycle to get tested. "They would sit under the expressway with their bag lunch, just coughing. That TB is out there."

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Rich Abdill

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