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COVID-19-positive pasta worker arrested on 2 DUIs in 1 week, leading 6 police officers and 1 inmate to quarantine

The Spokane County Jail, shown June 28, 2018, is a modern building that sits behind the Public Safety Building and the Spokane County Courthouse. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

A COVID-19-positive employee of a Spokane pasta factory caused the quarantine of six police officers, who arrested him twice last week on suspicion of driving under the influence.

The suspect, Mordecai L. Cochrane, 21, is also facing two unrelated counts of rape in Boundary County, Idaho.

Cochrane works at the Philadelphia Macaroni Co., the site of a coronavirus outbreak that has shut down the facility and led to a recent spike in Spokane County cases.

He was charged with physical control of a vehicle while under the influence after officers found him passed out and slumped over the steering wheel of a running Toyota Avalon at about 3:30 a.m. near Longfellow Avenue and Ash Street on May 20, court documents say.

Police determined Cochrane’s blood alcohol level was higher than the legal limit and arrested him.

Cochrane was booked into Spokane County Jail and stayed 12 hours before being released, said Spokane County spokesman Jared Webley.

“It was not detected through all our normal COVID-19 protocols because he was asymptomatic,” Webley said.

The jail was notified after Cochrane’s release that he had tested positive for the virus. Cochrane’s roommate during his stay has since been isolated and tests are pending.

Webley said the jail isolates those booked within a 24-hour period in hopes of limiting potential COVID-19 spread to the general jail population.

He said staff also take the “precautions necessary to make sure” they aren’t exposed.

Spokane County Jail staff contacted police shortly after finding out Cochrane had tested positive to let them know his test was prior to the incident.

On Monday, a police officer saw a Toyota Avalon with six passengers driving downtown with no taillights.

When the officer pulled the car over, Cochrane yelled out in a slurred voice to ask why they were being stopped, according to the officer. The officer then called backup and subsequently arrested Cochrane for a DUI.

Police said they determined Cochrane’s blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

After his arrest, Cochrane told officers he had tested positive for COVID-19 and that his quarantine was supposed to end this week.

The six officers who came in contact with the suspect are self-quarantining out of “an abundance of caution,” police said.