Have you seen videos claiming New York is setting up “quarantine camps” to forcibly detain people who may have covid-19? It’s an incredibly popular topic right now across several social media platforms like TikTok and Facebook. But it’s simply not true.
The claim that New York wants to set up quarantine camps is actually an old one that dates to the earliest days of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020. But the claim has seen new life this year, with rumors starting in March 2023 that New York Gov. Kathy Hotchul was prepared to “imprison you if you’re just suspected of being exposed to a disease.”
“WHAT IS GOING ON IN NEW YORK ??? CAMPS ?? REALLY ?? I can’t believe we’re still dealing with this!! Please watch and share!!!” one Twitter account called Tony TM tweeted on Wednesday along with a video.
The unnamed woman in the video explains that the city of New York had a hearing about quarantine camps, “basically where they can come into your home completely unprovoked” and “take your children.” The woman is seen crying in the video and saying that while she’s not concerned about herself, she’s scared for her three kids.
In reality, there is a kernel of truth in this viral meme, because there was an important court case happening in Rochester, New York on Wednesday, but not like the woman in the video suggests. The hearing was an appeal of a legal case brought by Republican politicians in New York about public health orders. The case is entirely an academic exercise at this point because nobody is forcing anyone into covid-19 quarantine camps.
New York state politicians brought a lawsuit under the group name Uniting NYS arguing that state laws give the government too much power under health emergency orders to force people into quarantine. The group won their lawsuit back in July at the New York Supreme Court but the state has appealed the decision and oral arguments for that appeal were Wednesday. The arguments are available in their entirety on YouTube.
As Politifact notes, every state in the country has similar laws that allow the state to force people into quarantine, something that’s typically done in their own home. But the legal arguments being made this week are being taken out of context to argue that New York is on the cusp of building concentration camps for everyday Americans. That’s not true, despite what you may have heard on TikTok.
“If this thing goes through, and you’re on their list to be taken, they come to your home—it could be in the middle of the night, 3 a.m., 6 a.m.—they take you out to their car no questions asked,” another TikTok user claimed, insisting that it could be little children taken away in the dead of night.
New York’s local 10 news station also ran a fact check about these claims back in July 2022 explaining, “there are no plans for quarantine or COVID camps.”
In short: Yes, there is a legal case that’s been brought about the proper role of government in managing infectious disease outbreaks. But, no, New York is not building quarantine camps for people with covid-19.
We all lived through the worst of the pandemic and covid-19 as a disease never really went away. Sadly, people are still dying from the airborne illness and it’s certainly a tragedy. But the pendulum of fear and calculated risk swung wildly back and forth over the past three years and very few people are on board with forcibly detaining anyone, even in the face of mass death.
To date, roughly 1.14 million Americans have died of covid-19, according to the CDC. And hospitalizations are up 8.7% over the previous week, while deaths are up 4.5%. But there aren’t quarantine camps. And New York has no plans to build them as far as the publicly available record can show.
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