Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center believes it is not unreasonable to be keeping an eye on the State Board of Health and state Department of Health
Washington Policy Center
There has been a lot of public discussion for several days about two troubling policy proposals: one concerning the quarantine of COVID-19 positive or unvaccinated individuals, and the other having to do with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for school kids. Today, I attended an all-day, State Board of Health meeting — along with thousands of other people — to get the facts.
The two policies are not happening, as we informed in a blog on Friday. In today’s coercive environment in Washington state, however, along with all the one-sided COVID-19 vaccine information from the government, the unthinkable has become thinkable.
And that resulted in thousands of worried Washingtonians following the State Board of Health (SBOH) meeting. Here’s what happened.
The first 20 minutes of the meeting, the SBOH tried to make it clear what is not being considered. “So again, one last time, no consideration of isolation and quarantine camps, that is a false rumor,” said State Board of Health Chair Keith Grellner. “No action on mandating vaccines for school. Again, false rumor,” he added. “Sorry if you were led to believe otherwise, but those items are not on the agenda today. So thank you.”
When time came for general public comment, the board got an earful. Over 7,500 people signed up to give it. Not everyone could speak, obviously, but the board did listen to over an hour of public comment and encouraged that written comments be sent to email@example.com.
The best misunderstandings are often based on half-truths, and that was the case here.
There is a 2003 code in the law regarding quarantine, which was created years before COVID-19 reared its ugly head. It is concerning, given COVID-era Washington, and should be reconsidered. (The board spent some time on that code and the reason they were discussing it today. See the board’s website to find the discussion.) And there is a technical advisory group (TAG) that has been assembled to consider immunizations for school attendance. When the TAG has completed any work, there will be another public meeting. The SBOH could take or reject its advice, and they promised due diligence.
It is not unreasonable to be keeping an eye on the SBOH and state Department of Health. It also is not unreasonable to continue to weigh in on government mandates, some of which were made before enough was known about COVID or COVID vaccines. Taking away a person’s employment when both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can contract or spread the virus is misguided at best. It’s punitive, discriminatory and coercive at worst. Denying children school based on the lack of a COVID-19 vaccine would be misguided, as well.
People watching this meeting might have been interested to hear about a petition submitted by Informed Choice Washington to prohibit mandating certain vaccines for day care and school. (Read more about that petition here. It was agenda item 11.) The board rejected the petition, concerned about tying the hands of future health boards. Several members brought up possible future diseases and recalled past ones, such as polio and measles.
It was long a long day in State-Board-of-Health land. But it was good. It should have shown lawmakers, agencies and the public at large that concerned citizens are watching. More eyes on government is a powerful thing, and it’s more important than ever as we try to end emergency rule and return to normal democracy.
Elizabeth Hovde is a policy analyst and director of the Centers for Health Care and Worker Rights at the Washington Policy Center. She is also a Clark County resident.