The following was originally published by The Center Square.
(The Center Square) – The Washington State Board of Health issued a press release to clarify two items on its agenda as it holds its first meeting of the new year on Wednesday.
Speculation has included claims that the board would vote in favor of both mandatory detainment for people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 and mandatory vaccinations for school children.
“Due to the large volume of questions we are receiving from interested folks, we want to clarify some misinformation that has circulated online regarding two topics on the agenda,” the release said.
On his KXL-FM101 radio show recently, host Lars Larson said the board was “planning to add COVID to the list of diseases for which it has authority to order law enforcement to forcibly detain and quarantine people.”
In its release, the board explains that the agenda item in question is in response to House Bill 1551, which was passed last year, so that its rules will be in line with state law.
The bill outlines what steps can be taken — including confinement — against a person who knowingly has a sexually transmitted disease and continues to engage in activities that could spread it to others. Doing so is a gross misdemeanor under state law.
Such confinement, which has to be approved by a judge, is the last step of several that a public health officer can take if a person refuses a medical examination and ignores cease and desist orders.
The board said the agenda item “does not include changes to isolation or quarantine policies nor does it suggest law enforcement be used to enforce any vaccination requirements.”
Also on the agenda is an update from the board’s Technical Advisory Group, which has been studying whether or not to add COVID-19 to the list of vaccinations that are required for students.
“The board will not take action on this agenda item at the meeting,” according to the release.
The release also said that if the board adds COVID-19 to the list of required vaccinations, the same medical, religious, philosophical and personal exemptions currently available for immunizations would apply.
Since the pandemic began in March of 2020, Washington has reported 982,000 cases and 10,087 deaths. There are currently 1,773 people in the state hospitalized with coronavirus, more than double from two weeks ago, with 152 of them on ventilators.
Click here to watch the meeting live on TVW, scheduled for Wednesday, January 12, 2022, from 9am to 3:30pm.
WHATCOM NEWS EDITOR’S NOTE: Regarding the statistics in the last paragraph; Washington state reporting does not differentiate between the number of people hospitalized FOR COVID-19 and people hospitalized WITH COVID-19 (may be in the hospital for a different reason with mild or no symptoms and tested positive upon entry or while in the hospital).