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Medical Activists Fight Florida’s Public Health Emergency Laws After COVID-19 Unveils Concerns

The Epoch Times

ByJackson Elliott


August 12, 2022





Move Freely America.

Tom Oltorik, the state director of Move Freely America on June 2018 (Jay Maloney)



https://www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_app/medical-activists-fight-floridas-public-health-emergency-laws-after-covid-19-unveils-concerns_4644340.html?welcomeuser=1


Florida has a Republican governor, a Republican-led state House, and Republican-led state Senate. However, it also has some of America’s harshest forced quarantine and public health laws. Some activists plan to change this situation.


The freedom of Americans to go where they want is under attack from laws made to combat public health emergencies, said lawyer R. Shawn McBride, the president of the American Freedom Information Institute.


During the pandemic, state governments gave themselves unconstitutional amounts of power to quarantine every resident, McBride said. In Florida, these laws were revised in minor ways and re-signed into law.


In 2002, Florida passed Statute 381.00315. This law gives Florida’s state health officer huge amounts of power in a public health emergency.


The law states that the state health officer can order people examined, tested, treated, isolated, or quarantined during a public health emergency. The state health officer can isolate or quarantine anyone who is believed to pose a danger to public health. Under Florida law, police can be compelled to enforce these laws even if they don’t want to.


Florida also passed Statute 768.381 early in the pandemic. This law was designed to protect hospitals from medical lawsuits when patients died of COVID-19, McBride said.


“It basically says you get a free pass as a hospital or medical provider if you follow a government-issued treatment protocol,” he said.


But now, it has resulted in hospitals using older CDC guidelines even when better treatments are available, according to doctors.


California Dreaming


According to Tom Oltorik, Florida state director of the medical freedom group MoveFreelyAmerica.org, Florida’s quarantine laws are severe—beyond the wildest dreams of liberal states like New York and California.


“It is the worst ‘forced quarantine, forced treatment’ language in the country,” he said. “It’s worse than New York state’s laws. The people in Washington state and California would dream of having laws like this.”


In New York, a judge recently overturned one of America’s harshest COVID-19 quarantine regulations. The rule allowed the commissioner of public health to quarantine anyone at any time. But even this law allowed quarantined people to access a lawyer or judicial review after the fact.


The Florida law doesn’t mention any way quarantined people can appeal their sentence.


“They’re not constitutionally friendly,” Oltorik said of the Florida medical laws. “They don’t protect the people. They protect the institutions.”


Ironically, one of America’s harshest quarantine laws is on the books in a state where the current governor strongly supports loose COVID-19 regulations, he said.


Under Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida was one of the first states to reopen during the pandemic. DeSantis also signed executive orders and legislation to end local COVID-19 restrictions, vaccine mandates, and mask mandates.


Given this record on COVID-19, DeSantis and Florida’s GOP-led House and Senate would likely not use Statute 381.00315, Oltorik said.


But the law is still on the books, he added. In the future, Floridians could face harsh crackdowns in the name of public health under different leadership.


“When Gov. DeSantis leaves office, the statutes are very alarming and could be used by a more liberally minded governor to lock the state down,” Oltorik said.


For the first 60 days after declaring a public health emergency, Florida’s state health officer has immense power to urge health measures on Florida residents. If residents refuse, the state health officer can order them quarantined. In cases where quarantines aren’t practical, the state health officer can force treatments. A 2019 judges guide opines that the state health officer could force vaccinations under Florida Statute 381.003(1)(e), which remains on Florida’s books.


“Individuals who are unable or unwilling to be examined, tested, or treated for reasons of health, religion, or conscience may be subjected to isolation or quarantine,” the law reads.


Misguiding Guidelines


Another COVID-19 law, Statute 768.381, has encouraged Florida hospitals and doctors to continue using less-effective methods to treat COVID-19 patients, said Dr. Avery Brinkley. Brinkley has over 40 years of experience in medicine.


The text of Statute 768.381 states that any patient suing hospitals for the mistreatment of COVID-19 must prove that doctors committed gross negligence or intentional misconduct.


But if hospitals prove they followed government protocols to the best of their ability, they aren’t liable for a lawsuit, the law states.


Brinkley said that this rule has encouraged hospitals to follow outdated CDC protocols instead of providing the best known care to patients.


“I’ve never seen in my entire career, such corruption—really collusion and corruption—between the federal agencies and big pharma,” he said.


The CDC most recently updated its guidelines on April 29. For care of COVID-19 patients, it is recommending the use of COVID-19 vaccines, antiviral drugs, and monoclonal antibodies.


According to Brinkley, the CDC’s approaches haven’t been the best from the onset of the pandemic. Although the vaccines worked to help patients infected with the first strain of the virus, they are less effective now, he said.


And the CDC recommends prescribing antiviral drugs too late in the disease, he said. “They don’t give it early when replication is occurring, which is over [after] about the first five days of the illness.”


It also recommends getting COVID-19 shots. But compared to other vaccines, the COVID-19 ones have more unknowns about their safety and long term impacts, he said.


According to the CDC, the COVID-19 vaccine has, for a small percentage of people, caused heart conditions. Most vaccines don’t do so.


“We don’t even know all the long-term side effects,” Brinkley said. “Now, we have vaccine injuries, which are an enigma. Now we’re seeing more and more of them: neurologic, vascular, infertility, early miscarries, increased incidence of cancers,” although any direct link to the vaccine remains unclear.


Moreover, the CDC doesn’t recommend drugs like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, he said. These drugs have a good track record against COVID-19, as reported by doctors using them in independent approaches to COVID-19 treatment.


Brinkley got COVID-19, and credits hydroxychloroquine with his recovery.


“I know it works because it cured me overnight,” he said. “It sounds miraculous, but it’s true.”


For patients, Statute 768.381 has resulted in worse medical treatment and unnecessary COVID-19 deaths, he said.


“There’s no reason the early treatment should have been denied or are still being denied,” Brinkley said.


No Cases


Despite the issues these laws cause, repealing them isn’t as simple as filing a lawsuit and going to court, McBride said. Statute 381.00315 has rarely seen use, and courts need cases.

“You can’t just go to court and say, ‘I don’t like that law, let’s try to make it unconstitutional,’” he said. “Usually, they want to see it being used or in action.”


In a court case, Statute 381.00315 would likely be invalidated because it violates due process, he said. But it can’t go to court unless the government starts enforcing it. Lawsuits are also unpredictable, he added.


As a result, the legal fight against it must run on lobbying rather than lawsuits.


“There’s just not a live case right now,” he said. “They’re not actually using the law right now, but they did assert their knowledge of the law and willingness to potentially use it in certain state forms in 2020.”


McBride, Oltorik, and others have run a lobbying campaign to change Statute 381.00315. Currently, the campaign is focusing on persuading legislators, but McBride said that with more resources, the group would like to amend Florida’s Constitution.


“It’s expensive with a lot of paperwork, but we’ve looked at the possibility,” he said.


On Statute 768.381, the situation is more complex, Oltorik said. Although the law was originally designed to expire in May 2022, last-minute lobbying efforts by hospitals got legislators to extend indemnity for hospitals.


“We found out that they had rushed it through the House, the House tabled it, handed it to the Senate who … everything was passed unanimously, and [they] forwarded it to the governor for signature based on a bunch of inaccuracies.”


Although Move Freely America and other activist groups urged DeSantis to veto the bill, the governor didn’t veto the bill, Oltorik said.

“It was very disappointing for us,” he said.


Jackson Elliott REPORTER Follow Jackson Elliott reports on small-town America for The Epoch Times. He learned to write and seek truth at Northwestern University. He believes that the most important actions are small and that as Dostoevsky says, everyone is responsible for everyone and for everything. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys running, reading, and spending time with friends. Contact Jackson by emailing jackson.elliott@epochtimes.us




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