As our long national nightmare of “15 days to flatten the curve” drags into its sixth (sixth!) month, many of our nation’s governors and bureaucrats are inventing new ways to wield their power.
On August 31, without much fanfare and with almost no news coverage, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Lost His Way) ordered Interim Director of Health Lance M. Himes to amend the insidious (and unconstitutional) health order the state’s citizens have been suffering under since March to create what amounts to FEMA camps. The order purports to “avoid an imminent threat with a high probability of widespread exposure to COVID-19 with a significant risk of substantial harm to a large number of people in the general population, including the elderly and people with weakened immune systems and chronic medical conditions.”
Never mind that deaths and hospitalizations have been on the decline in Ohio since July 1.
DeWine has been using an archaic sentence in the Ohio Revised Code, which gives the health director “ultimate authority” during a pandemic, to order everything from shutdowns to a statewide mask order to school closings. Several of these orders have been overturned by judges who have ruled them unconstitutional, but that hasn’t stopped DeWine from continuing to pile more orders onto the original abomination.
The latest order involves the construction and use of what are essentially FEMA camps to isolate individuals “who are unable to safely self-quarantine in their place of residence and to isolate those diagnosed with or showing symptoms of COVID-19.”
The order gives examples of the circumstances that might lead to confinement (internment?) in a camp.
Examples of the types of persons included in this order are those who test positive for COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization but need isolation (including those exiting from hospitals); those who have been exposed to COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization; and asymptomatic high-risk individuals needing social distancing as a precautionary measure.
The language in the order mirrors the text of a Frequently Asked Questions section on FEMA’s website about non-congregate sheltering, outlining the agency’s support for such measures.
The State of Ohio, and likely many other states, entered into an agreement with FEMA in March, “authorizing applicants to apply for emergency protective measures including non-congregate sheltering.”
Whether or not individuals testing positive for COVID-19 will be required to “shelter” in these camps is to be “determined by a local public health official’s direction or guidance and should be based on individual needs.”
The order is vague enough to give local mini-dictators plenty of reason to believe they have the power to order people into these camps… er… shelters.
DeWine plans to make these facilities a reality by ordering the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (EMA) to:
…secure the necessary approvals for the use of non-congregate sheltering statewide and local government agencies should take all necessary actions to identify both public and private facilities, secure available space, and enter into any contracts or mutual aid agreements that may be necessary to procure, equip, and operate non-congregate shelters throughout the state. In the event state officials determine there is a need for the state to operate a non-congregate shelter, the Ohio EMA shall coordinate with the appropriate state entities.
Where will these camps, if they become necessary, be set up? Some will be located on the campuses of public colleges and universities, where property will be, essentially, commandeered by the state, in an effort to isolate COVID-positive cases.
Public colleges and universities are directed to make available vacant grounds, buildings, and facilities of such college or university as determined to be necessary and suitable after reasonable consultation between the respective college or university officials and the local board of health, Ohio EMA, or county emergency management agency for temporary use as non-congregate sheltering to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The colleges and universities have been ordered to negotiate mutual aid agreements with local boards of health, Ohio EMA, and/or county emergency management agencies. and schools are further ordered to “impose reasonable restrictions on the use of and access to the property and facilities.” (One can only hope the schools will decide to designate the sections of their campuses set aside for safe spaces for the new FEMA camps.)
State Rep. Candace Keller, a Republican, wants to know how DeWine plans to pay for the state’s share of these facilities, seeing as there’s no line-item in the budget for them. But as we’ve seen, the governor doesn’t need the legislature to enact his orders—he’s bypassed them every step of the way with his (did I mention they’re unconstitutional?) health department diktats.
This order comes as deaths and hospitalizations for COVID-19 have been in decline in Ohio:
While there have been localized spikes in the number of cases (DeWine blames people going to church and attending family gatherings), the number of people dying or needing hospitalization in Ohio as a result of the COVID-19 virus has plummeted. That hasn’t stopped DeWine from increasing the restrictions on Ohio citizens, including a statewide mask order that, inexplicably, came as deaths and hospitalizations were on the decline in the state.
And now he’s ordering that our poop be monitored for outbreaks of COVID-19. If you had any illusions that these overwrought orders would be ending anytime soon, I’m sorry to disappoint you. We sailed right past “15 days to flatten the curve” in March and have now entered the phase where we are being told not to expect to return to any sense of normalcy until the coronavirus is all but eradicated from the earth.
They Keep Moving the COVID-19 Goalposts: Will the Next Step Be Masks to Protect From the Flu and the Common Cold?