Did the Washington State Board of Health adopt a rule that would involuntarily place unvaccinated residents, including children, into COVID-19 quarantine camps? No, that's not true: The board made an administrative rule change to the law that governs the state's handling of HIV and some other communicable diseases. The rules do not apply to COVID.
The claim began circulating on social media and web pages beginning in January 2022, including this January 9, 2022, YouTube video (archived here) posted under the headline, "They Have Already Setup the Internment Camps!" The description reads:
The Washington State Legislature is slated to vote on a measure that will authorize the involuntary detainment of residents as young as 5 years old in Con vid concentration camps, for failing to comply with the state's experimental jab mandate.
If passed, WAC 246-100 will allow local health officers at "his other sole discretion" to "issue an emergency detention order causing a person or group of persons to be immediately detained for purposes of isolation or quarantine.
Click below to watch the video on YouTube:
The widely shared posts also claimed that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee had or would organize "strike teams" to round up those in violation of a state vaccine mandate that covers state employees and many health care workers.
It is true that the state board of health discussed and adopted changes to WAC-246-100 at its meeting, board chair Keith Grellner told Lead Stories in a January 18, 2022, email.
But the rule is specific to HIV and HB1551 -- passed by the Legislature in June 2020 to end "statutory HIV/AIDS exceptionalism, reducing HIV-related stigma, defelonizing HIV exposure, and removing barriers to HIV testing."
"COVID-19 is a communicable disease that WAC-246-100 would/could apply to, but the amendments were not related to COVID-19," he said, noting that the board posted a statement clarifying the proposed changes ahead of its public hearing.
Under state law, the board is mandated to adjust or amend administrative rules any time public health laws are changed, Grellner said.
Washington does have a quarantine and isolation administrative code that is not specific to any communicable diseases (or chemical, biological or radiological agent), but may be applied to any communicable disease (or chemical, biological, or radiological agent) that is determined to be an imminent risk to the health and safety of others.
The first part of the code (issuing an order to isolate or quarantine) has been used to gain voluntary compliance, Grellner said. The second does apply to involuntary confinement, but it has been rarely used and mostly in relation to tuberculosis, he said.
"I am not aware of this code ever being used for COVID-19 and I am not aware of any discussions or plans to do so," Grellner said, adding that the board received well over 20,000 emails objecting to code changes.
Also untrue, Grellner said, are claims that amendments to the rule would required forced vaccination of young children or the creation of "strike teams."
In a January 14, 2022, email, Inslee spokesperson Mike Faulk confirmed that no plans were in the works or discussion to organize such teams.
"Unequivocally, no, nothing like that was ever happening," he said.