A Boulder woman who was arrested in Hawaii over the weekend and accused of violating the state’s 14-day novel coronavirus quarantine said Monday she thought she was exempt from the requirement.
“I thought I was here 100% legally,” Tara Trunfio, 23, said. “I really did.”
Trunfio was arrested Saturday and charged with ignoring the state’s quarantine order, which requires anyone visiting or returning to Hawaii to isolate themselves for two weeks upon arrival. She said Monday she thought she was classified as an essential worker who was exempt from the quarantine because she planned to work as a herbalist.
“I just want to farm, heal the Earth and do good things,” she said from a hospital room where she was awaiting test results to see if she had COVID-19. The test came back negative, she said later.
Officials with the state’s COVID-19 Joint Information Center said in a statement Monday that Trunfio never received an exemption from quarantine and was not classified as an essential worker.
“Even if Ms. Trunfio ‘intending’ to be a herbalist qualified her as a critical infrastructure worker, which it does not, that would only allow her to leave her designated quarantine location to perform her critical infrastructure work,” the statement said.
Trunfio, who faces up to a year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine for violating the state’s order, said Monday she intends to fight the charges.
She came to Hawaii around May 3 intending to work on a farm for three months, but left that farm after a couple days, Trunfio said, then slept in a car and in the woods for the next few days because she said she couldn’t afford a hotel room.
Trunfio showed The Denver Post screenshots of emails she sent the state’s quarantine hotline on May 5, in which she wrote she was an exempted worker and that she’d be changing her address. She never heard back, she said, which she thought meant she was all set.
“I assumed that it was like, they put it in the books as, ‘OK, this person moved to this location,’” she said.
Maui police on Friday asked the public to be on the lookout for Trunfio because she was violating quarantine. That day, Trunfio went to the beach, met a young man there and agreed to give him a ride back to his home in Kula, she said. After arriving there, Trunfio met the young man’s father, who apparently recognized her from news coverage generated by the police bulletin and called the authorities.
She was arrested around 2 a.m. Saturday. Police said she was trespassing on the property and refused to leave. Trunfio said she was gathering up her belongings and was on her way out when officers arrived.
“They grabbed the stuff out of my hands and they put me in shackles and I’m like, ‘Please, please let me sit down for a moment,’” she said. She claimed the officers caused cuts on her wrist during the arrest.
On Monday, Trunfio said she’s still hoping to stay in Hawaii after she is released from the hospital, and that she’s hoping to find another farm to work at. She said she’ll be careful to follow all of the state’s rules in the future.
“I like to respect people, that is like my thing,” she said. “It’s OK if people are scared. But I wasn’t trying to be scary.”
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