One of America's Largest Cities Is Using a 1984 Tactic to Find Quarantine Violators

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Posted: Aug 10, 2020 7:00 PM
One of America's Largest Cities Is Using a 1984 Tactic to Find Quarantine Violators

Source: Santiago Covarrubias/Sun Times via AP

Earlier this week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for those traveling from a handful of states and Puerto Rico. People are asked to quarantine if they were recently in: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah or Wisconsin.

According to Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, health officials will check a traveler's social media accounts if they believe a person was recently in one of the states that require them to quarantine for 14 days. Any social media postings could be used as evidence to issue a citation, NBC Chicago reported. 

"One of the easiest ways to sort of get enough proof that there was the potential of a violated quarantine order without me having to send out an inspector or do any sort of more aggressive follow up to collect that is to look at social media," Arwady explained.

Fines range from $100 to $500 a day, USA Today reported. It's not clear how many citations, if any, have been issued.

Although this is a technique Chicago is planning to use, Arwady said this isn't Big Brother watching people.

"We do not have somebody dedicated to sitting and watching social media feeds," she explained "We're absolutely not doing that."

"I don't want to like overemphasize that we're somehow Big Brother in monitoring people's social accounts - we're absolutely not doing that," Arwady said. "But where we already have a concern, it's one of the easiest ways to identify people who are not just breaking the travel order but flaunting it publicly."

Just because public health officials don't think this is a Big Brother move means nothing. This is absolutely a way for officials to keep track of who is coming in and out of their city. The sad part is most travelers won't take it seriously and they'll post things on their Facebook or Instagram accounts that put them in Chicago shortly after being in another state. The question becomes is this a Fourth Amendment violation?