DOCUMENTS: Washington State Allows Local Health Officers To Place Civilians In Involuntary Isolation or Quarantine

The state of Washington has a formal process by which local health officers can put civilians in “Involuntary Isolation or Quarantine.” Local health officers can use a “Confidential” form to place a civilian in involuntary isolation or quarantine, and that form clearly states that the civilian is placed in “Detention.” People in Washington state can also be isolated or quarantined against their will by a court order.

As of press time, the Washington State Department of Health website has an official page headlined “Isolation and Quarantine Guidelines and Forms,” which states, “Isolation and quarantine are key strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19.” The website states that “The forms found on this page can be used by Local Health Officers when they find it necessary to isolate or quarantine individuals. The forms are in Word format.”

The Washington State Department of Health website then states that “Local Health Officers have three options for initiating the quarantine or isolation of an individual. The procedure chosen should be based on the amount of cooperation expected from the individual to be quarantined or isolated.” The website links to WAC 246-100-040, which states that:

“(1) At his or her sole discretion, a local health officer may issue an emergency detention order causing a person or group of persons to be immediately detained for purposes of isolation or quarantine in accordance with subsection (3) of this section, or may petition the superior court ex parte for an order to take the person or group of persons into involuntary detention for purposes of isolation or quarantine in accordance with subsection (4) of this section, provided that he or she:(a) Has first made reasonable efforts, which shall be documented, to obtain voluntary compliance with requests for medical examination, testing, treatment, counseling, vaccination, decontamination of persons or animals, isolation, quarantine, and inspection and closure of facilities, or has determined in his or her professional judgment that seeking voluntary compliance would create a risk of serious harm; and(b) Has reason to believe that the person or group of persons is, or is suspected to be, infected with, exposed to, or contaminated with a communicable disease or chemical, biological, or radiological agent that could spread to or contaminate others if remedial action is not taken; and(c) Has reason to believe that the person or group of persons would pose a serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of others if not detained for purposes of isolation or quarantine.”

Here is Confidential schedule: IsoQuar-ConfidentialSchedule1.doc (

The state of Washington describes the formal process for a “Local Health Officer Order for Involuntary Isolation or Quarantine,” stating, “Not as confident the individual will comply with a Voluntary Request for Voluntary Isolation or Quarantine; when the Local Health Officer believes the formality of the order with police enforcement and fine will better ensure compliance, or there is no time or ability to secure a Court Order (i.e., prearrangements were made to locate a judge in an emergency).”

What form would a local health officer use if the officer wants to place someone in an involuntary isolation or quarantine? According to the state of Washington, the officer would use a “Confidential Schedule” form, which lists “Location of Detention.” The “Confidential Schedule” form looks like this:

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