Fact Check Follow-up: Are Hochul and the DOH still trying to create quarantine camps?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News10NBC has been reporting on the talk of quarantine camps for months. Some people claim Gov. Kathy Hochul and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) are trying to bypass the legislative process and give themselves the power to create COVID-19 camps.

Click here to see our Fact Check report where NYSDOH officials and Assemblyman Josh Jensen (R, 134) both told News10NBC there is no truth to the quarantine camp claim. However, Republicans, like Jensen, believe the proposed NYSDOH regulations do bypass the state legislature.

Several people emailed and called after our story aired in early February. Even though the DOH and a Republican Assemblyman say there are no plans for COVID-19 camps, they don’t believe that’s the case. They pointed out some specific language in one of the DOH proposals below:

Investigation of Communicable Disease; Isolation and Quarantine by News10NBC on Scribd

On page 4:

(l) Congregate quarantine shall mean quarantine at a location operated or contracted by the State or local health authority, consistent with this Part and any direction that the State Commissioner of Health may issue, where multiple persons are quarantined;

On page 8:

(4) For the purposes of quarantine orders, quarantine locations may include home quarantine, other residential or temporary housing quarantine, or quarantine at such other locations as the public health authority issuing the order deems appropriate, consistent with any direction that the State Commissioner of Health may issue.

After reading that, you might be wondering like some other viewers if other locations deemed appropriate could mean quarantine camps. So I asked Assemblyman Jensen.

"From my from my reading, from what our legal counsel in the Assembly Minority has told us, in their legal opinion, in reading it myself, that is not what this proposed regulation does," Jensen said.

He explained that "congregate" settings are for homeless people or situations where people need an additional level of care.

NYSDOH officials say the same thing adding, "congregate" settings could also mean places like nursing homes or prisons.

Those explanations aren’t sufficient for some of our viewers. We told you the public comment period ended on Feb. 15. News10NBC asked the NYSDOH if that language would be removed. Officials don’t know yet, and there’s no timeline on if these new regulations will be approved.

DOH officials say similar emergency regulations have been in place since the start of the pandemic and pointed out this excerpt from the proposed regulations:

"The alternative would be to leave in place the current regulations on disease investigation and isolation and quarantine. However, many of these regulatory provisions have not been updated in fifty years and should be modernized to ensure appropriate response to a disease outbreak, such as COVID-19."

The other part of this story is that these regulations could be implemented without the New York State Legislature’s approval.

Assemblyman Jensen is co-sponsoring a bill that would require state agencies to get approval from the legislature before renewing a rule or regulation. It’s now in committee. We’ll keep you posted on any developments.