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NY lawmakers aren’t voting on bill to detain the unvaccinated

December 21, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: New York lawmakers will vote Jan. 5 on a bill that would allow for the “indefinite detention of the unvaccinated.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The claim is misrepresenting a bill, first introduced in 2015, that would allow for the temporary detention of individuals infected, or suspected of being infected, with a contagious disease during a public health emergency. The state Assembly’s health committee has no plans to take action on the bill, and its sponsor now says he will withdraw it.

THE FACTS: A proposal in the New York state legislature that failed to find support among lawmakers, first introduced six years ago, is causing a stir on social media.

In recent days, social media users have pushed a claim that lawmakers are planning to vote on the bill — and that it would allow for the “indefinite detention” of people who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19.

“BREAKING REPORT: New York Legislation set for vote on January 5th, 2022 Provides for INDEFINITE DETENTION OF UNVACCIANTED at Governor’s Discression…” one widely shared tweet reads.

But no such vote on the bill in question was slated for Jan. 5, which is actually just the start of the legislative session.

Citing “concocted stories” online about the bill, Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, its sponsor, tweeted on Monday that he would take “legislative action to strike the bill, remove it from the calendar, thus ending all consideration, and actions that could lead to passage into law.”

The bill is currently known as A. 416 and was first introduced in April 2015. It proposed allowing the state to temporarily detain someone carrying or suspected to be carrying a contagious disease — or someone they came into contact with — in a “medical facility or other appropriate facility.”

The bill also said such a person “shall not continue to be detained” after they are determined to be no longer contagious. It also included a provision to require the state to seek a court order if a person was to be held for more than three days.

Frank Shea, a spokesman for Perry, told The Associated Press that the bill was first proposed in 2015 after a nurse defied quarantine after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. Shea said that while Perry reintroduced the bill year after year, he had not actively pushed for the legislation and said it would be withdrawn because it had become a “distraction.”

The most recent introduction came in January 2021, when it was referred to the Assembly’s Committee on Health. There was no other action on it.

Before Perry announced Monday that he would withdraw the bill, the office of Assemblyman Richard Gottfried — the chair of the Committee on Health — also said in a statement to the AP that there were no plans to vote on it.

“This bill has been introduced every year since 2015, has never been taken up by the Committee, has not been cosponsored by other legislators, and has not had a companion bill in the Senate,” the statement said. “The Committee does not plan to put the bill on an agenda.”

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.