Covid Camp: Washington State to Hire ‘Isolation & Quarantine Strike Team’ Employees

Washington state is hiring three people for an “isolation and quarantine strike team” to oversee people an “institutional setting” for the next year, according to a job listing on the Washington state jobs website.

The jobs post by the Washington Department of Health seeks the three employees to work for about a year.

The job listing came to my attention by a politically active Washington state Republican who fears exactly what you do: that this smacks of a Covid Camp of the kind we’ve seen in Australia.

But is it? Indeed it is. Lewis County set up the facility, located at the Lakeview Inn in Centralia on May 3, 2021 for “travelers” who have been exposed to Covid. Whatever that means.

Screenshot/ChronOnline

The local Chronicle newspaper reported in late August that the facility is quite controversial, as you might expect.

Since opening, the isolation and quarantine program at Lakeview Inn has worked to serve any out-of-state person who comes into close contact with or is infected by another person with COVID-19. That includes shipping and vessel crews, travelers and work release inmates.

“These folks come from all over, but the commonality is that they don’t have a local jurisdiction here in Washington state. They don’t have a residence, they don’t have a place to call home here,” Portner said.

DOH is still working to find a permanent location to move the site to in the coming months, Portner said. The department’s lease of the whole motel is up at in April 2022.

The facility faced criticism from Centralia and Lewis County officials after the department did not work with local officials in placing the facility, a fact that generated an apology from the department earlier this year.

The state is also continuing to work with Lewis County, the City of Centralia and state Department of Revenue to come to a “finalized agreement” on how the state could pay back thousands of dollars worth of lodging tax dollars that were lost due to the state’s occupation.

On Wednesday of last week, Portner said there were 13 individuals isolated and one in quarantine at the 40-bed motel.

And what is the “isolation and quarantine strike team” job description? Let’s take a look at the job posting to which I’ve added emphasis.

The Isolation and Quarantine (I & Q) Section works to decompress hospitals by supporting local and state isolation and quarantine (I&Q), Alternate Care Facility (ACF), and patient transport (EMS) by partnering with local governments (Tribes, Counties, Cities) and communities, state agencies, and other entities in the event of an emergency.

These I & Q Strike Team Member Program Specialist 2s (PS2) are responsible for participating in program planning and evaluation of health service delivery products and identifying needs for personnel, supplies, and activities to support community and state response activities. These positions will staff the State Isolation and Quarantine Facility and provide for the needs of travelers that stay at the facility. I & Q Strike Team members are in responsible charge of the I & Q Facility during their shift and are tasked with responding to emergencies, training contractors and new staff, and providing guest support as needed. When we are successful, these efforts will directly support the mission of the DOH, which is to protect and improve the health of people in Washington.

This recruitment will be used to fill three (3) non-permanent full-time Program Specialist 2 positions located within the Division of Emergency Preparedness & Response. These Program Specialist 2 positions are anticipated to last twelve (12) months from date of hire.

The duty station for this position is in Centralia, WA at our State Isolation and Quarantine Facility. The facility is staffed 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. Staff may work any or all of the three shifts and may work overtime as needed to ensure adequate staffing of the facility.

Lewis County is swath of idyllic green pastures and family homes along the I-5 corridor in Western Washington. The area also features an large number of poor and struggling families.

The facility appears to be for homeless people. Oddly, the state calls these homeless people “travelers” – a moniker usually used to describe the Roma population, a people group that used to be called “gypsies.”  Maybe that’s exactly who it’s set up for, maybe not.

The 40 bed facility had 13 people in it when that story was written in late August.

Lewis County set up this Covid Camp in May. Now they’re staffing up. But for what?

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