It seems like just the other day when I was looking at the surveillance tools being used in Israel to track the movements of people who test positive for the virus and worrying if we might see those levels of authoritarian intrusion into the lives of Americans at some point. (Actually, it was only yesterday.) So imagine my reaction when I got up this morning and saw this headline over at the Daily Wire. In my home state of New York, the Worst Governor in America is now looking at doing more than just closely monitoring people who might have contracted COVID. A bill has been introduced into the state legislature that would allow Andrew Cuomo to order the “removal or detention” of people suspected of being infected. Wait… did I just wake up in communist China without knowing how I got there?
A bill introduced by a member of the New York State Assembly would amend the public health law, permitting the governor of the state to order the removal and/or detention of a person deemed to be a “suspected case, contact or carrier of a contagious disease” who would “pose an imminent and significant threat to the public health.” The person in question then would be “detained in a medical facility or other appropriate facility or premises designated by the governor.”
New York State Assembly Bill A416, introduced by Democrat Noah Nicholas Perry, has been read once and referred to the Committee on Health.
So… are we talking about COVID concentration camps here, or what?
The wording of the applicable parts of the bill is chilling enough to have come out of a George Orwell novel. The phrase “removal and detention” is featured prominently right in the first paragraph. These special powers would be assigned to the Governor during any “state of health emergency due to an epidemic of any communicable disease.”
Lest you think this is something less ominous than it sounds so far, continue reading the bill. This power could be exercised by the governor “by issuing a single order, identifying such persons either by name or by a reasonably specific description.”
Yep. It’s exactly as described above. They’re talking about allowing the Governor (in consultation with health officials) to bypass any and all due process and issue an order to have a citizen picked up and taken to some unspecified “health facility” even if the person objects. There is no mention of the “suspect” having to have access to an attorney nor any recourse if they disagree with the order.
Just to sweeten the deal, the suspected infectious person can be held up to sixty days before a court order authorizing the detention is required. If such an order is obtained, the person can be held for another stretch of sixty days before another court review is required. Not for nothing, but if this happens to you and you actually do have COVID, you’re either going to be recovered or dead by then in 99% of cases.
Also, take note of the fact that we’re not just talking about COVID here. In fact, the bill doesn’t even mention the plague by name. It simply generically refers to “a contagious disease” that might result in “high mortality.” It would apply any time that a new virus breaks loose. For that matter, it’s estimated that as many as 60,000 people die from the flu each year. That number is even higher in a particularly bad cycle. That sounds like “high mortality,” doesn’t it? Will the Governor be able to make people with a case of the flu disappear into some mysterious detention facility?
What we’re seeing here is so far over the top that it’s not at all hyperbolic to compare this to something you would see in North Korea or under the Chinese Communist Party. A single individual would have the power to order the detention of individuals, theoretically for an indefinite period, without the involvement of any legislative action or due process. And what sort of “facility” are we talking about? Would the person be allowed to have visitors? I’d ask if they would be able to see their attorney, but apparently, that would be pointless. There is no appeal to the governor’s order if you are deemed a risk to society by a single individual.
I almost hope this trainwreck of a bill actually makes it to the Governor’s desk and he signs it. I would pay good money for a front-row seat to see this dictatorial law challenged at the Supreme Court. If this sort of unfettered abuse of personal freedom were allowed to stand, this country is truly circling the drain even faster than I’d feared.