An Illinois man faced criminal charge for not self-isolating despite COVID-19 symptoms. Prosecutors just dropped the case

An Illinois man faced criminal charge for not self-isolating despite COVID-19 symptoms. Prosecutors just dropped the case
Citizen Soldiers from the Wisconsin National Guard conduct COVID-19 testing at the Waukesha County Expo Center in Waukesha, Wis., May 9. The Wisconsin National Guard has 15 specimen collection teams operational and supporting communities across Wisconsin to increase the state's COVID-19 testing capacity. Wisconsin National Guard photo by Capt. Joe Trovato

ProPublica Illinois is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force. Sign up for The ProPublica Illinois newsletter for weekly updates.

Prosecutors have dismissed a criminal charge against a southern Illinois man whom they accused of endangering public safety when he entered a busy gas station store after he was ordered to self-isolate because of coronavirus-like symptoms.

Jason Liddle, 36, of Olney, was charged in late March, as Illinois was under a shelter-in-place order because of the accelerating number of COVID-19 cases. Liddle had stopped at The Gas Station convenience store in Sainte Marie, in Jasper County, so his then 4-year-old son could use the bathroom. A store employee who attended high school with Liddle recalled a Facebook post that Liddle shared that showed a note from medical professionals instructing him to stay at home for 14 days because of “possible COVID 19 illness.”

Once Liddle left the store, the employee informed her supervisor, who, in turn, called authorities. The Jasper County state’s attorney’s office charged Liddle with reckless conduct, a misdemeanor.

The charge was dropped Thursday, according to the Jasper County Circuit Clerk’s Office.

State’s Attorney Chad Miller couldn’t be reached for comment. He had said Liddle’s actions “showed a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.” Liddle also could not be reached for comment. Edward Deters, Liddle’s attorney, declined to comment on the case.

In March, Liddle told ProPublica Illinois he had experienced chest pains, a symptom consistent with the novel coronavirus, which prompted him to go to a respiratory clinic. Though he was not tested for the virus, the satellite TV installer was told he could not work and that he must self-isolate.

Three days after Liddle’s mandatory isolation orders, he and his family drove to his in-laws’ home. At some point during the roughly 30-minute drive, he stopped at The Gas Station. The trip was the only time he had left his house, Liddle told ProPublica Illinois.

By the end of March, there were no reported coronavirus cases or deaths in Jasper County or in neighboring Richland County, where Liddle lives. As of Aug. 27, Jasper County has reported 104 positive COVID-19 cases and seven deaths, while Richland County has reported 58 cases and one death.

At the time Liddle was cited, the case was thought to be the first of its kind. At least one more case has emerged since then. This month, Richland County prosecutors charged a woman with reckless conduct after she reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus and allegedly violated a stay-at-home order, according to news reports.

Filed under:


Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ }}

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.