Governor Jay Inslee of Washington has instituted, by royal decree, a regulation that turns any ordinary citizen who defies his Coronavirus testing edict into a criminal. In fact, such a person will not be allowed even to leave his home to buy food or pick up prescription medication.
This, of course, is for our benefit. It’s all a part of Inslee’s “Contact Tracing” program, which, we are told, is necessary to “box in” the Coronavirus. Inslee’s contact tracing involves interviewing people with positive COVID-19 tests to identify who they’ve been in contact with, getting those people tested, and then making sure they isolate themselves and their families.
At the press conference introducing this proposal one question kept coming up - what about enforcement? How will you ensure Washington State residents comply, and what if they don't? One reporter asked the quite sensible question, “When it comes to contact tracing, how are you guys going to handle people or families who want to refuse to test or to self-isolate?
“If they want to leave their home to get groceries, I know you’ve said they can’t do that; how will you make sure they don’t?“
Inslee’s answer is even worse than you might have expected. According to Lynwood Times reporter Luke Putvin, “For those businesses/individuals that don’t comply, the governor stated that he confirmed with Attorney General Bob Ferguson, there will be sanctions in civil or criminal court.”
So, everybody who has ever been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for the Chinese virus will be contacted by someone in government and ordered to submit to a Coronavirus test. If an individual does not comply, the governor has made it clear he will send the authorities after you to haul you off to jail.
Bob Ferguson, you may recall, is the same tyrant who tried to send great-grandmother Baronelle Stutzman to prison, take everything she owned, and leave her stranded at the curb outside her own house in her pajamas. Her crime? She politely refused to do a floral arrangement for a homosexual wedding. So when Bob Ferguson says there will be “civil or criminal sanctions” for people who don’t comply, you can take that to the bank.
From the standpoint of the federal Constitution, it should be clear that an American citizen cannot be required to submit to an invasive medical procedure without a warrant. Sticking a six-inch Q-tip up somebody’s nose would qualify as invasive in anybody’s book. The Fourth Amendment guarantees everybody the right to be “secure in their persons” against “unreasonable searches and seizures” and “no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause.”
The COVID test involves both a “search” for bodily secretions and a “seizure” of the same. That cannot happen under the Constitution without a warrant. Are judges ready to sign off on invasion of privacy warrants for possibly every single person who lives in the state of Washington?
The Washington state constitution (Article I, Section 7) says “No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.” Well, in dealing with COVID, we don’t have a law in Washington that compels people to submit to invasive medical procedures against their will, we have only an autocratic decree by a regressive and power-hungry governor which does not carry the force of law. It still looks from here like authorities are going to have to get a warrant before they start sticking Q-tips into people’s nasal cavities without permission.
So this is Democrat Governor Inslee’s vision of good public policy. You will get a call from a nameless government employee telling you that you've been exposed to someone who's COVID-19 positive. You will not be told who that person is - why, that would be an invasion of privacy! - but you and your entire family will be ordered to stay inside your house for 14 days and not allowed to leave, even to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy.
You will not be permitted to leave your house until you test negative. Some other bureaucrat from the government will check in on you during your incarceration-in-place sentence, get groceries for you "in some fashion," and go to the pharmacy for you. He might even be somebody from the National Guard. They run out of people to do that, you go hungry.
For proximity-based contact tracing to work, numerous obstacles must be overcome. First, a majority of the population needs to own smartphones. Then they must all voluntarily download and use the app. (In tech-happy, Singapore, only about 33% of folks have signed up to use the tracing app. In Utah, only one percent of the population has signed up.) People would always need to carry their phones with them, be sure they are always turned on, and be sure they have remembered to activate Bluetooth.
As one tech expert explained, even if 10% of the population used a contact-tracing app — a rate typically achieved only with hugely popular apps — just 1% of contacts would be discovered this way, given that both people need to be using the tool.
The reality is that there are massive invasion of privacy issues involved here that the American people are simply not going to put up with. Contact tracing done right requires the government to track everybody’s movements all of the time everywhere they go. This is so that everybody who has been within six feet of any infected person for more than 15 minutes can be fingered and tracked down. That’s a big fat, “No thanks.”
Here’s a follow-up question. The government is pressing ahead with a Manhattan-Project-type effort to develop a vaccine, with a lot of money from Bill Gates. If the vaccine is developed, will Gov. Inslee order his citizens to get vaccinated or face imprisonment? If he’ll do something like that in connection with the problem, why wouldn’t he do something like that in connection with the solution?
Ronald Reagan once uttered these perceptive words: "One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project."
And beyond all that, writes Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York, “A mountain of scientific evidence indicates contact tracing won’t work against the coronavirus. And given the virus’ nature, deploying it earlier probably wouldn’t have stopped the spread.”
Some states are already trying the misbegotten contact tracing idea. One of the quite practical problems they’ve run into is that people think the call from the government worker bee is spam and they refuse to answer.
I’m reminded of something C.S. Lewis once wrote:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
You want to see what that kind of tyranny looks like in action, take a trip to the state of Washington. On second thought, don’t. The governor may not let you leave.
The author may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org