This is a related question. The difference here is that the other question is asking about criminal negligence; someone doing something without considering the harm it may cause. My question is about the potential of someone more or less deliberately infecting someone who is vulnerable.

A young, and otherwise healthy individual, Alice, has a breathing disorder (Asthma.) I recognize that there is not enough data on COVID-19 as it relates to this particular condition to draw an authoritative conclusion. However, being as it is specifically a breathing disorder, and COVID-19's danger relates to breathing damage, I feel it would be beyond reasonable to assume that Alice is in the more vulnerable fraction of the population.

Put the other way, it should be difficult to argue a simultaneous belief that Alice was not in the vulnerable fraction, while also knowing Alice had such a breathing condition.

Alice has family, friends, roommates that are not exercising social distancing from Alice. These individuals are plainly aware of Alice's preexisting condition. It is presumed that at least one of these individuals know they are infected and are not telling Alice.

Put differently, they are everything but publicly admitting they are trying to infect Alice.

What are the legal implications for Alice's entourage?

The law does specify STD/HIV transmission as criminal transmission of a pathogen, because of the invariable fatality, but it seems to only codify specifically that. I could find nothing involving generic highly contagious infections that have largely unknown fatality rates, which Alice is almost guaranteed to eventually contract anyway.

The only thing that comes to mind is "Typhoid Mary" Mallon. However, she was never actually convicted of anything, just punished by forced confinement.

  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Can Rand Paul be sued for negligent transmission of COVID-19? Apr 1, 2020 at 14:06
  • 2
    "Typhoid Mary" was never prosecuted. She was ordered to be confined and to stop cooking (which she disobeyed and did so under another name after she was released). She was confined again for the remainder of her life (23 years). As far as I can tell, there was no criminal trial, she was arrested and confined, but not prosecuted.
    – Ron Beyer
    Apr 1, 2020 at 14:29
  • 1
    @BlueDogRanch: Not quite. The difference is, in that question, the person was potentially being criminally reckless/negligent. In my question, I'm wondering the implications of a person or group more or less deliberately attempting to infect a vulnerable individual. E.g. they know they are infected, and they know the other person is vulnerable, and yet they continue to expose that person. In some ways, you might say this is attempted murder, in others, you might conclude that COVID-19 is an inevitability. I'm curious as to what the law might say.
    – Charlie
    Apr 2, 2020 at 7:36
  • @RonBeyer: Yes, actually. You are right, of course. I've edited my question to reflect this.
    – Charlie
    Apr 2, 2020 at 7:37


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .