By: Caroline Machiraju

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. – Compulsory quarantining at a designated “place” chosen by the state Department of Health has been threatened in a letter issued to at least one minor in the Mechanicsburg Area School District, who has been asked to quarantine.

The recipient of the letter, dated Sept. 28 and signed by the Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam, was identified as “close contact” of someone diagnosed with Covid-19.

The DOH letter outlined the quarantine timeline “required,” but also threatened: “If you do not cooperate with this directive, the Secretary of Health may petition a court to have you confined to an appropriate place chosen by the Department to make certain that you are not able to infect the public, and to make certain that you receive proper care. You will be kept there until the Department determine it can release you from quarantine.” It also threatens that law enforcement may be called upon “to the extent necessary, to ensure your compliance.”

PA Sen. Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, issued a statement on his website yesterday, calling on the DOH to stop such language. “Bullying children by telling them that the court system and law enforcement may remove them from their homes and place them in another location to be cared for by the government is wildly inappropriate,” Sen. Martin wrote in a letter to the DOH and the state Department of Education. “These intimidating letters are another example of the Wolf Administration’s unseemly Covid-19 response. The letters must stop immediately.”

The DOH letter indicated the “required” quarantine is 14 days as the “most protective …strategy,” but allowed for 10 days, provided no symptoms appear; or 7 days, with proof of negative test (after Day 5). It recommended that monitoring (symptoms), masking and physical distancing should still be followed.

Secretary Beam cited her authority to use these measures under Section 5 and 7 of the Disease Prevention and Control Law; sections 2102 and 2106 of the Administrative Code of 1929; and the Department’s regulations found at 28 Pa. Code 27.60-27.58.

Harrisburg100 reached out to the state DOH Communication Office to inquire how many students received such a letter, where these facilities are and if anyone has been forcibly quarantined to date. We’ll update this news article when a response is issued from the DOH.

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