Opinion: State Board of Health hearing addresses quarantine rules and child vaccine mandate

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

Elizabeth Hovde
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.

Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde

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 wsboh@sboh.wa.gov.

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.


  1. Margaret

    Washington State has opened Quarantine/Isolation centers for infectious diseases like COVID in WA state, in Centralia, King County, Spokane , Spokane Valley and perhaps other locations.
    The Washington Administrative Code re involuntary quarantine/isolation on the books is concerning.
    WAC 246-100-040 Procedures for isolation or quarantine. (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 in accordance with subsection (3) of this section, or may petition the superior court ex parte for an order to take the person or group of persons into involuntary detention for purposes of isolation or quarantine in accordance with subsection (4) of this section, provided that he or she:
    (a) Has first made reasonable efforts, which shall be documented, to obtain voluntary compliance with requests for medical examination, testing, treatment, counseling, vaccination, decontamination of persons or animals, isolation, quarantine, and inspection and closure of facilities, or has determined in his or her professional judgment that seeking voluntary compliance would create a risk of serious harm; and
    (b) Has reason to believe that the person or group of persons is, or is suspected to be, infected with, exposed to, or contaminated with a communicable disease or chemical, biological, or radiological agent that could spread to or contaminate others if remedial action is not taken; and
    (c) Has reason to believe that the person or group of persons would pose a serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of others if not detained for purposes of isolation or quarantine.
    (2) 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.
    (3) If a local health officer orders the immediate involuntary detention of a person or group of persons for purposes of isolation or quarantine:
    (a) The emergency detention order shall be for a period not to exceed ten days.
    (b) The local health officer shall issue a written emergency detention order as soon as reasonably possible and in all cases within twelve hours of detention that shall specify the following:…
    (5) A local health officer may petition the superior court for an order authorizing the continued isolation or quarantine of a person or group detained under subsections (3) or (4) of this section for a period up to thirty days…
    (6) Prior to the expiration of a court order for continued detention issued pursuant to subsection (5) of this section, the local health officer may petition the superior court to continue isolation or quarantine provided:
    (a) The court finds there is a reasonable basis to require continued isolation or quarantine to prevent a serious and imminent threat to the health and safety of others.
    (b) The order shall be for a period not to exceed thirty days.
    (7) State statutes, rules, and state and federal emergency declarations governing procedures for detention, examination, counseling, testing, treatment, vaccination, isolation, or quarantine for specified health emergencies or specified communicable diseases, including, but not limited to, tuberculosis and HIV, shall supersede this section.
    [Statutory Authority: RCW 43.20.050 (2)(d), 70.05.050, and 70.05.060. WSR 03-05-048, § 246-100-040, filed 2/13/03, effective 2/13/03.]

    Quarantine/isolation centers seem to be spreading like a new variant, to other states, and countries, many with similar rules and regulations.

    In Australia, involuntary quarantine/isolation of healthy people has been reported, see Shocking: Quarantine Camp Prisoner Shares Details from Her 14-day Detention
    In Canada, “As concerns about internationally identified COVID-19 variants hit closer to home, public health authorities are asking — and increasingly, ordering — people to isolate safely, away from others in their household.”

      1. Heather Pamplin

        What I heard in the meeting is that these are for people who are visiting the state, and subsequently find out they are COVID+ and need a place to quarantine before returning home.

        1. Born in Washington

          I also listened to the BOH meeting in its entirety. That is the sales pitch to keep the frogs from jumping out of the pot. They are setting idle for the moment. “Nothing to see here, move along”. As we all know Australia is actively using their camps. NYC has a bill pending to do the same thing. Unvaccinated seems to be the new Jew. at this time. Check out the Georgia Guides stones,

  2. Crazy

    So it was never on the table and you confirmed it was not on the able. Yeah false hysteria. And thanks to ladder-climbers like Joe Kent who wants to peddle and amplify half-truths into mass hysteria to get himself elected for personal gain (don’t kid yourself), the health board gets inundated with death threats from a bunch of nut jobs which prevents them from doing their actual jobs. What a leader–not.

    1. Margaret

      This was the agenda item on the meeting.
      “1:30 p.m. 9. Rules Hearing Continuance–Communicable and Other Certain
      Diseases, Chapter 246-100 WAC
      – Testimony Will Be Taken – Possible Action”
      Some citizens read the WAC and are concerned about involuntary isolation and Quarantine at the sole discretion of the Public Health Officer.

      1. Crazy

        Right, I am drinking the kool-aid because I don’t believe the false hysteria ginned up my tin hats that BOH was going to issue directives to detain and quarantine people who have tested positive. If that is drinking the kool-aid, okay. It’s better than the bleach you are probably drinking–good luck with that.

    2. Born in Washington

      What part of “not at this time” do you not understand. Too many eyeballs watching so they kick the can down the road hoping everyone goes to sleep like “crazy”

  3. Melissa

    Thanks for writing this article. I found it to be much more informative on WA 246-100 than the article in today’s issue of The Columbian, which stuffed the story into a political January-6 narrative. This article actually told me about the meeting, what was proposed, and what the results were. Thank you, and well done!


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