Fact Check: Did Tennessee Gov Bill Lee Sign An Executive Order Creating COVID-19 Internment Camps?

Ryan King | Contributor

A post shared on Facebook claims Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order that would allow the National Guard to break into people’s homes and bring them to COVID-19 internment camps.

Verdict: False

Executive Order 83 does not allow the National Guard to forcibly take individuals who contract COVID-19 and move them to internment camps. The executive order allows National and State Guard members to serve in some health care roles, such as testing for COVID-19, in order to reduce strain on the health care system.

Fact Check:

On Aug. 6, Lee signed Executive Order 83 to address the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the state of Tennessee, according to local NBC News-affiliate WBIR-TV. The executive order expands resources for hospitals, allowing out-of-state health care workers and recent nursing school graduates who may not have licenses to provide COVID-19 care and suspends inspections of health care facilities, among other things, the outlet reported.

An Aug. 10 Facebook post claims Executive Order 82 “authorizes National Guard and State Guard troops to break into peoples’ homes, kidnap them at gunpoint, and take them to covid internment camps.” There is, however, no evidence the order permits kidnapping people and bringing them to “covid internment camps.”

Check Your Fact reviewed the entirety of Executive Order 83, but found no provision authorizing anything similar to what was described in the Facebook post. The executive order authorizes the use of National Guard and State Guard members to “serve in certain health care and emergency services roles to reduce system capacity strain resulting from COVID-19,” according to paragraph 8. The executive order further explains such roles may include testing for COVID-19 and driving ambulances. There is no mention of either guard being allowed to break into people’s homes or forcibly bring them to quarantine camps.

Paragraph 18 states, “Temporary quarantine and isolation facilities may be constructed.” The executive order explains the state will waive reviews for construction of those facilities so long as there are at least some inspections of the structures to ensure safety. There is no mention that the facilities will definitely be constructed or that people will be forced into these facilities.

If Executive Order 83 actually granted the National Guard the right to break into homes and force people into “covid internment camps,” media outlets certainly would have reported on it, yet none have.

Laine Arnold, Lee’s communications director, told Check Your Fact in an email that the claims made in the Facebook post are false. (RELATED: Did Joe Biden Say Americans Who Don’t Receive The COVID-19 Vaccine Before 2022 Will Be Put In ‘Quarantine Camps’?)

“The recent EO temporarily deregulates certain requirements for hospitals like what spaces can be used to treat individuals seeking care, assistance to help with staffing shortages, etc,” Arnold said. “They are the exact same provisions that have been enacted previously when hospitals were facing strain. National Guard medics have previously helped when there was a need for more personnel on the floor or if there was a need to assist with processing those seeking care. This EO only pertains to hospital operations.”

The claim appears to stem from an Aug. 10 article published by Natural News bearing the headline: “RED ALERT: Covid internment camps announced in America; Tennessee governor signs EO authorizing National Guard to carry out covid medical kidnappings.” Natural News has previously published misinformation. Check Your Fact recently debunked a claim stemming from Natural News that stated CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said COVID-19 vaccines are “failing.”

A pastor of a church in Tennessee likewise spread the false claim during a church service, according to local CBS News-affiliate WREG.

Ryan King

Contributor

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