Held Captive By TB — And The State

Robert Daniels, isolated TB patient CBS

Locked inside the Maricopa County Hospital's jail wing since last summer, Robert Daniels has not been convicted of a crime. CBS News correspondent Sandra Hughes reports.

"I am like an inmate. But the problem is that I can't even take a shower. I can't even clip my nails or have a haircut," he said.

He's isolated inside a windowless room because he has a form of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Authorities won't say if it's the same strain of TB as Andrew Speaker's.

"I can't look out the window, no walks or anything like that. I'm just being here 24/7 in this room," Daniels says.

Health officials took Daniels into custody after he repeatedly went out into this neighborhood without a face mask. They put him the only place equipped to handle his rare disease: the jail ward of the hospital. And while he is getting medical treatment — though not to the level of Speaker — his attorney says he's being treated more like a criminal than a patient.

"Even prisoners on death row get the opportunity to exercise their legs more than Robert," says his attorney, Nancy Cosme.

County officials concede the forced confinement is unusual, but necessary

"It is absolutely a public health responsibility to prevent others from being infected with what could be a life threatening disease," says Bob England of the Maricopa County Medical Department.

Daniels was first diagnosed with tuberculosis while living in Russia with his wife and son. He came to Phoenix looking for treatment last year.

Drug resistant forms of tuberculosis such as Daniels' have developed over time because some patients stopped taking their antibiotics before an entire prescribed cycle was complete.

And if more people like Daniels and Andrew Speaker ignore the rules, some fear a return to the days of quarantining patients in sanitariums, which was done prior to the use of antibiotics.

For Robert Daniels, that day is here.

"We'll do everything we can to protect the public. And if this is one way to protect the public, (to) keep this guy off the streets, we'll always have room," says Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Daniels' only escape now: three tests in a row proving medication has his disease somewhat under control.
  • Amy Clark

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