FACT CHECK: Is Washington State Building Detention Camps for Those Who Are Unvaccinated?

Keith Grellner, the chairman of SBOH, also debunked the claim at the meeting to clear doubts from the minds of the people.

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A Washington State Board of Health has been facing major problem even before it started due to a strange claim that is being online. The claim surfaced late last week ahead of the State Board of Health's (SBOH) scheduled according to which Washington State was considering internment camps for those who are unvaccinated in the state including those who haven't yet taken their Covid-19 vaccine.

However, the claim is completely false and baseless and is just distortion of facts to mislead people. The SBOH and the Washington State Senate's Republican Caucus have both rubbished the claims in a statement calling it false.

Misleading Claim

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

The claim has its origin in the agenda of the meeting that was scheduled to be held on January 12. The meeting agenda mentioned that it would discuss the state code WAC 246-100-040. Theis code revolves around "Procedures for isolation or quarantine."

The board had plans to discuss this code and introduce a few changes to stigmatizing languages related to AIDS and HIV. However, not many understood the intricate language and the jargons and the started making their own interpretations which gave origin to the weird claim that the Washington State was considering detention camps for those who are unvaccinated in the state.

The original WAC 246-100-040 reads: "...a local health officer may invoke the powers of police officers, sheriffs, constables, and all other officers and employees of any political subdivisions within the jurisdiction of the health department to enforce immediately orders given to effectuate the purposes of this section in accordance with the provisions of RCW 43.20.050(4) and 70.05.120."

The above language became difficult for most to understand and soon social media was flooded with the claim that unvaccinated residents including children aged as young as five-yea- old would be taken to detention centers.

COVID-19 vaccine trial (Representational picture) Pixnio.com

Further fuel was added to the claim after Law Enforcement Today, a media outlet that claims to be "run for and by law enforcement," came up with a post supporting the claim, that read: "Washington State is looking to amend a state law which would allow the state to involuntarily detain state residents as young as 5-years-old in what amount to Covid-19 internment camps for failure to comply with the state's vaccine mandates."

Another Law Enforcement Today post read: that "Under the "emergency detention order," it legalizes the isolation and detainment of American citizens who fail to voluntarily comply with COVID gene therapy shots "for a period not to exceed ten days."

The Truth

In reality, the claim is completely false and baseless. There are no such plans and no such detention centers are being considered. Since most people found it difficult to understand the code that SBOH planned to amend, some people took opportunity of the situation to spread the false rumors.

In fact, according to NBC, this policy has been on the books since 2003, and the SBOH was not meeting to discuss it.

The claim, which jeopardized the entire meeting, was has been debunked by both SBOH and State Senate's Republican Caucus.

COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 vaccine is seen as game-changer (representational image)

Keith Grellner, the chairman of SBOH, also debunked the claim at the meeting to clear doubts from the minds of the people. "The board is not considering isolation or quarantine camps for people that test positive for Covid or unvaccinated people. That is a false rumor and we will not be discussing that today," Grellner clarified at the meeting.

Washington State Senate's Republican Caucus released a document with background on the controversial section of the law that resulted in the rumors. The statement read: "Among the 26 WAC sections in Chapter 246-100, there are seven which relate to a local health officer's authority in his/her jurisdiction to make someone isolate or quarantine to control the spread of a communicable disease. Washington is not exceptional in this regard as all 50 states have these laws on the books either in statute or, as is the case in our state, in code or both.

In 2020, HB 1551 passed to destigmatize and modernize the HIV/AIDS language in statute in Washington. Since that bill passed into law, the SBOH has been reviewing the HIV/AIDS code sections, which are also housed in WAC 246-100, and has been holding regular public discussions at each SBOH meeting to either propose language revisions or act on the duties prescribed in HB 1551. These efforts have been routine at SBOH meetings since 2020 and will continue into the future."

Coronavirus vaccine

The caucus also said, "Because a slot for WAC 246-100 appears on every SBOH meeting agenda, some people are saying that the SBOH is going to vote on rounding up unvaccinated people to take away their individual liberties and put them in state-run COVID internment camps."

"No such vote to consider the internment of unvaccinated individuals will occur, nor is it even being considered. No one will be interred," they wrote.

Thus, there is no truth in the claim and it is absolutely false and baseless.

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