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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is not trying to create ‘quarantine camps’

CLAIM: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is trying to create “quarantine camps” in which people can be held against their will if they have COVID-19 or other diseases.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Officials have repeatedly said that the state has no intention to build quarantine camps. Critics are misrepresenting a temporary rule adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic that outlines powers by state health officials to isolate or quarantine people for the purpose of controlling a highly transmissible disease. The rule said that people can be isolated or quarantined in interim housing, rather than just their own homes, but doesn’t mention camps. It was deemed unconstitutional by a judge, who said the state overreached, but also did not mention camps.

THE FACTS: The state has appealed the judge’s decision, and oral arguments took place last week. In the days since, some on social media resurrected the false claim that the rule is part of a plan by Hochul to create “quarantine camps” in New York.

“She wants quarantine camps for diseases that could be COVID, could not be COVID, things that aren’t even contagious,” a woman in a popular TikTok video said of Hochul. “Things like Lyme disease, ok? Things like toxic shock syndrome. You know, the thing you get if you put a tampon in wrong, ok? She wants you to go to the quarantine camp for that.”

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The video was viewed more than 350,000 times, though was no longer on the platform as of Tuesday. An Instagram post that shared the same clip had received more than 2,000 likes.

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But neither Hochul nor other New York officials have proposed creating “quarantine camps.”

Cort Ruddy, a spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health, told The Associated Press that he cannot comment on pending litigation. But agency officials have previouslytold other media outlets they do not intend to create such camps.

Instead, this claim distorts a temporary regulation that the state has moved to make permanent.

The rule, Section 2.13, outlined isolation and quarantine procedures to control highly transmissible diseases. It was first adopted as part of New York’s Codes, Rules, and Regulations on March 9, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rule said the state commissioner of health may issue isolation or quarantine orders, or may direct the local health authority to do so. Among its guidelines, it stated that in addition to an individual’s home, isolation or quarantine may take place in temporary housing, as deemed appropriate by public health authorities.

But nothing in the rule mentions “camps” nor suggests the state has plans to erect them, Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, confirmed.

“New York State, the federal government, or for that matter anywhere in America that I’m aware of, has no immediate plan, or plan at all, to reissue any kind of isolation or quarantine,” he said. Gostin noted that such measures were rare — even during the height of the COVID pandemic, when New York’s rule was in effect — and recommendations for people to stay at home were far more common.

Rather, “temporary housing” could refer to situations like someone who lives in a congregate setting with vulnerable individuals, and who therefore might be better off isolating in a room in a hotel, Gostin said.

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Section 2.13 was extended by successive 90-day periods after its adoption three years ago, and the state moved to make it permanent in December 2021.

The state has argued that the rule merely clarifies powers to compel people to isolate or quarantine that it already had — a position Gostin concurs with. However in March 2022, three Republican state lawmakers filed a lawsuit arguing that it encroached on the legislature’s lawmaking powers and that requiring people to isolate or quarantine against their will violates their right to due process.

The suit does not allege the creation of “quarantine camps.” State Sen. George Borrello, the lead plaintiff on the case, told the AP in a statement that its intent was to invalidate Section 2.13, “which was a clear breach of separation-of-powers.”

“Given the language, it is clear that the Commissioner of Health or a local health department could quarantine individuals against their will at a location of the Commissioner or Health Department’s choosing – a gross abuse of due process and New Yorkers’ civil rights,” Borrello said.

In July 2022, State Supreme Court Justice Ronald Ploetz voided the rule, saying that it violates state law and “ignores the balancing act between an individual’s rights and the need for public safety.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed an appeal to Ploetz’s decision on behalf of the Hochul administration. The appeal is still underway.
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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.