Can the Governor, through public health officials, involuntarily confine and quarantine Washingtonians? Fact!
Public Health Officials can confine and quarantine Washingtonians who fail to comply with the Governor’s Stay Home Order and self-quarantine.
Tara Lee with the Governor Inslee’s Office stating to Q13 News that “Anyone can choose not to participate in an interview if they are contacted by public health professionals” and “We hope people who test positive or who are identified as close contacts chose to voluntarily self isolate.” However, the State can force quarantine and force quarantine in undisclosed locations!
According to the Washington Administrative Code 246-100-040(1), at his or her sole discretion, a local health officer may issue an emergency detention order causing a person or group of persons to be immediately detained for purposes of isolation or quarantine.
RCW 70 authorizes the confinement by Local Health Officials, and the Department of Health adopts their Administrative Code to set the standards and procedures for the voluntary and involuntary confinement/Quarantine. The Process Outlined in WAC 246-100 has been effective since 2003.
Many concerns arise from an involuntary quarantine and confinement; especially when the procedures are developed by the State Agency. This process, adopted in 2003, may become more common in the future and should concern legislators and Washingtonians regardless of party.
Orders to confine and quarantine Washingtonians can be brought to a Judge “ex parte.” The term “ex parte” means that the Petition to Quarantine Involuntarily is presented to a judge with only one side present at the hearing, the Agency seeking the quarantine. You may be involuntarily quarantined without even having been put on proper notice and allowed to adequately defend yourself.Peter Abbarno is an attorney and Candidate for State House of Representatives in the 20th Legislative District.
Local Health Officers have three options for initiating the quarantine or isolation of an individual, including involuntary confinement.
- Local Health Officer Request for Voluntary Quarantine – WAC 246-100-040(1).
- According to the Washington Department of Health, this is to be used when a person is likely to comply with self-quarantine.
- Local Health Officer Order for Involuntary Isolation or Quarantine – WAC 246-100-040(3)
- According to the Washington Department of Health, this is used when the local health official is not as confident the individual will comply with a Voluntary Request for Voluntary Isolation or Quarantine; when the Local Health Officer believes the formality of the order with police enforcement and fine will better ensure compliance, or there is no time or ability to secure a Court Order (i.e., person ready to leave jurisdiction, need to impose quarantine on a weekend or at night and no prearrangements were made to locate a judge in an emergency).
- Court Order for Involuntary Isolation or Quarantine – WAC 246-100-040(4)
- According to the Washington Department of Health, this is used when the local health official is not confident that individual will comply with either Request or Local Health Officer Order; Local Health Officer believes that it may be necessary to move to a contempt of court proceeding with the threat of incarceration and/or greater fine to secure the individual; as a supplement to the Local Health Officer Order for Involuntary Isolation or Quarantine (both can be obtained, i.e. not mutually exclusive).
If the involuntary quarantine is based solely on the Local Health Officer Order for Involuntary Isolation or Quarantine, no lawsuit has yet been filed, so the Local Health Jurisdiction can file a lawsuit using the form DOH summons and petition for order authorizing continued involuntary detention for quarantine or isolation. WAC 246-100-040(6) authorizes another extension up to thirty days if so ordered by the Superior Court.
Of particular concern is Section 1.4 of the Ex Parte Order, which allows for Quarantine and Confinement in an undisclosed location. That alone should raise enormous red flags.
I want Washingtonians to stay safe and use caution for their own health and the health of others in the community. But, this subjective process needs better transparency and checks and balances. If a person is a true threat, have an open hearing with notice to get all the facts, from both sides, before a judicial officer enters an order.
As your State Representative, I will work to protect all Washingtonians and advocate fair, open, and accountable government and processes.Peter Abbarno is an attorney and Candidate for the State House of Representatives in the 20th Legislative District.