Homeless man arrested for escaping COVID-19 quarantine speaks out

Posted at 6:20 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 19:56:35-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A homeless man who tested positive for COVID-19 is speaking out after he was arrested for escaping quarantine at the temporary homeless shelter at The Nashville Fairgrounds.

Randall Kirkley was arrested last week for escaping quarantine after jumping the fence. According to the report he was arrested a couple miles away off Nolensville Road.

Kirkley said, “It was crazy.”

Randall said he previously tested positive for COVID-19 at the Nashville Rescue Mission but is asymptomatic.

“I said heck with this I’m leaving cause I’m not supposed to be here no more than 72 hours,” Kirkley said.

Randall later learned his quarantine was longer than that. He said he didn’t know. “I signed something there but I don’t remember what it says.”

According to the Metro Health Department it was a directive which stated that he must quarantine until further notice. NewsChannel5 Legal analyst Jim Todd explains the escape charge.

Quarantine Health Directive

Todd said, “If someone knowingly and intentionally left the facility, they’re committing a misdemeanor, I think the bigger question by all this is what sort of due process did this individual have.”

Since Kirkley was unable to pay, the Nashville Community Bail Fund posted his $5,000 bail today according to vice chair Davie Tucker Jr.

Tucker Jr. said, “But it seems that this situation is a direct result of the criminalization of poverty.”

He said his group gave Kirkley a cell phone so he can keep in touch with the health department. “Covid only shows the cracks that already exists with the marginalized populations.”

With the help of Open Table Nashville, the Nashville Community Bail Fund found Kirkley a place to isolate safely. After the ordeal Randall hopes the homeless population, and the people who are positive with COVID-19, understand that breaking quarantine could mean incarceration.

Kirkley said, “I didn’t think I was going to jail, and I wasn’t looking to go to jail, but I ended up there, and I’m out now so that’s good!”

Note: In the arrest system they referred to Randall as Randle, however he said he does not spell his name that way.


See all our coronavirus coverage here


What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.