According to the Center for Disease Control, isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease. Isolation separates sick people with a quarantinable communicable disease from people who are not sick and Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
During your legal aspects training as a code enforcement officer, you are taught that states have police power functions to protect the health, safety, and welfare of persons within their borders. During the last several weeks, many local governments are enacting legislation to help combat Novel Coronavirus, that may include isolation and quarantine which are also “police power” functions derived from the right of the local government to take action affecting individuals for the benefit of society.
In many cities and counties, code enforcement officers (law enforcement and health officials) are being tasked with the responsibility of dealing with potential violations of newly enacted regulations regarding social distancing and/or shelter in place orders. While most recent enforcement action appear to be targeted at businesses, what happens if the situation worsens and moves towards isolation and quarantine of residents? Are code enforcement officers truly equipped, trained or ready to handle this level enforcement?
As we move into this “new norm”, we should remember that the outbreak of COVID-19 may be stressful for people. Fear and increasing anxiety in individuals subjected to the real or perceived threat of the virus can be overwhelming and cause very strong negative response and resistance to any enforcement activity; so your approach to regulating codes should be paced and calculated–In other words, take precaution, be careful, and be safe!
About the author: Marcus Kellum, MMPA CCEA
Marcus Kellum has worked with local governments, private businesses and professional organizations across the country to train their regulatory, compliance and enforcement officers and inspectors. He spent nearly three decades in public service working with various cities and counties in Georgia, Colorado and the City of New York. He has held positions as code division manager, chief of enforcement, and department director. Marcus is a Certified Code Enforcement Administrator and holds a BS in criminal justice administration, and a master’s degree in management and public administration.