Saturday, May 9, 2020
I saw a meme on Facebook by a group calling itself Christian, Conservative, Patriot and Not Afraid and after reading their About page, I think I could agree with most of what they claim to stand for.
What got my dander up though was the meme that called quarantine house arrest, mislabeled social distancing, belittled the terms Safe At Home and “greater good” and compared the restrictions to Nazi Germany.
This is disappointing on many levels, but the site it apparently ignorant of 1) the meaning of quarantine and 2) the US Constitution which they claim to believe in.
Quarantine is the correct term and it is perfectly constitutional. According to Mirriam-Webster a quarantine is:
1) a period of time (40 days) (who knew?!)
2) a nautical term referring to: a) ships arriving in port and suspected of carrying a contagious disease and held in isolation from the shore; b) a regulation placing a ship in quarantine; c) a place where a ship is detained during quarantine
3) a) restraint upon the activities or communication of persons or the transport of goods designed to prevent the spread of disease or pests b) place in which those under quarantine are kept
4) enforced isolation
House arrest is a misnomer because being confined to one's home is not done when someone is arrested. House arrest is done after someone is arrested and subsequently sentenced to time at home, under close surveillance, rather than serving a jail sentence.
The federal government derives its authority for quarantine from the Constitution under section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S. Code § 264). The federal government is authorized to, among other things:
1) prevent the entry of communicable diseases into the country
2) quarantine and isolation may be used at ports of entry.
3) is authorized to take measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases between states.
States are authorized to:
1) enforce isolation and quarantine within their borders.
Also, the site is ignorant of history. There is a precedent for what we are experiencing. During the deadly 1918 Spanish flu epidemic cities that took strict measures like social distancing and closing places like schools, churches and theaters had lower mortality rates.
By the way, the Cleveland Clinic is one of the top medical organizations in the world and they are taking the coronavirus seriously (as are other major medical organizations) so that should tell us something.