The state will provide family support personnel to check in on the non-compliant.
OLYMPIA, Washington, May 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Washington Governor Jay Inslee indicated that people who refuse to cooperate with contact tracers or refuse coronavirus testing won’t be allowed to leave their homes even to go to the grocery store or pharmacy.
“When it comes to contact tracing, how are you guys going to handle people or families who want to refuse to test or to self isolate? If they want to leave their home to get groceries I know you’ve said they can’t do that; how will you make sure they don’t?” a reporter asked him.
“We will have attached to the families a family support person who will check in with them to see what they need on a daily basis,” he responded. “If they can’t get a friend to do their grocery shopping, we will help get them groceries in some fashion. If they need pharmaceuticals to be picked up, we will make sure they get their pharmaceuticals… We are going to be there on a daily basis for them – now that’s going to help encourage them to maintain their isolation too.”
Inslee announced that as the state begins to relax restrictions and open up its economy, health officials will focus on contact tracing and isolation of infected individuals with the help of over 1,300 newly trained “contact tracers” who will begin work Friday, May 15.
Critics were quick to point out disturbing aspects of the new effort in the Evergreen State.
“There’s no death penalty in Washington state for murder,” tweeted civil liberties lawyer Eric Rhein. “Now [Governor Inslee] is claiming authority to slowly starve you if you don’t conform,” added Rhein.
‘Box in the virus’
“This initiative is robust, it is vigorous and it is comprehensive, and it needs to be all three of those (testing, contact tracing, and isolation) to succeed,” said Inslee in a video conference.
He noted that the initiative will be “on a much grander scale” than similar past initiatives which traced the relationships and personal interactions of individuals with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and hepatitis. He did not mention HIV/AIDS.
“If we do not succeed in this second stage of our efforts, this virus could come right back out and bite us,” asserted Inslee.
While social distancing was the primary tactic employed to slow the spread of the virus during the early days of the pandemic, Inslee said that as the state moves to open up the economy, “testing, contact tracing, and isolation of people who are infected,” will now the become major tools of government authorities.
During his presentation, Inslee incorporated a series of graphics to illustrate aspects of the new phase.
Inslee said the goal is to “box in the virus.”
“When someone tests positive for COVID-19, an interviewer will reach out by phone,” according to information released by the governor’s office. “They will ask who that person has been in close contact with, then reach out to those other people to let them know they have been exposed. People testing positive and their close contacts would need to confine themselves at home. This plan involves contacting people within 24 hours of a positive test result and talking to their close contacts within 48 hours.”
The governor assured the citizens of Washington that all information collected is confidential and will not be shared. Persons identified as having had contact with an infected individual will not be told the name of the individual.
“These professional interviewers will ask about symptoms, recent exposure and demographic questions such as age, address, gender and ethnicity,” according to the governor’s published statement.
An army of government ‘tracers’ including the National Guard
The most ambitious component of the plan is the 1,371 army of people trained and tasked with “contact tracing,” who will be unleashed later this week.
At the start, the 390 members of the Department of Licensing and the 630 State and local health professionals will be aided by 351 members of the National Guard. The Guardsmen will be phased out once more workers and volunteers are trained and able to replace them.
Isolation and quarantine
“At the sign of any symptoms, people should confine themselves at home. Voluntary confinement for both ill persons and the members of their households will be a major challenge, but it is one of the most critical portions of this entire endeavor,” explained Inslee.
“Individuals and their households will need to be confined for 14 days if they are exposed to the virus. We know this will present challenges for some families and we are looking at ways to address them,” he added.
For those who refuse to comply with the new guidelines, Inslee said they will face sanctions either in civil or criminal court.
Inslee’s remarks came as other government measures around the country and the globe have come under fire for explicitly violating basic constitutional rights.
Last month, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said that stay-at-home orders are “unprecedented burdens on civil liberties.”
“The idea that you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest,” said Barr. “It’s very onerous, as is shutting down your livelihood.”
As if to prove the Attorney General’s point, last month it was revealed that Kentucky residents who refuse to quarantine themselves were being outfitted with ankle bracelets, identical to those that criminals confined to house arrest must wear.