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Does the CDC Have a Plan to Put High-Risk Individuals in Camps?
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Does the CDC Have a Plan to Put High-Risk Individuals in Camps?


Right-wing provocateur and frequent source of misinformation Candace Owens claimed in a recent viral tweet that the CDC “actually put together a document to discuss putting high risk people into camps to ‘shield’ low risk people from them.”

Owens linked to a page on the CDC’s website titled “Interim Operational Considerations for Implementing the Shielding Approach to Prevent COVID-19 Infections in Humanitarian Settings.” As the title suggests, the document discusses how to organize humanitarian settings—such as refugee camps—to limit the spread of COVID-19 infections. It does not describe creating camps for high-risk individuals. The first sentence of the document reads: “This document presents considerations from the perspective of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) for implementing the shielding approach in humanitarian settings as outlined in guidance documents focused on camps, displaced populations and low-resource settings.”

The document was published in July 2020, during the Trump administration, and outlines potential challenges to implementing the “shielding approach,” a plan in which individuals at high risk of contracting the virus are separated from those at low-risk of contracting the virus. Again, this document discusses shielding within camps, not, as Owens claims, creating camps for high-risk populations.

CDC public affairs specialist Jade Fulce tells The Dispatch Fact Check that “These considerations are in response to concepts put forth by [Caroline Favas in] ‘Guidance for the prevention of COVID-19 infections among high-risk individuals in camps and camp-like settings,’ and specifically address humanitarian settings.”

Cavas’ paper looked at shielding in “forcibly displaced populations residing in camps or camp-like settings,” which she identified as “particularly vulnerable to COVID19 epidemics due to overcrowding, poor access to safe water and sanitation and limited access to health services.” Given the differences between camps and the general population, Cavas noted that the typical pandemic responses “such as mass ‘stay-at-home’ orders, social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine” would not be feasible in a camp setting and explored shielding as a way to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in that context. The CDC paper was written in response to this research, outlining difficulties that would likely arise from attempting to employ shielding in camps.  

Owens did not respond to a request for comment. 

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Alec Dent is a former culture editor and staff writer for The Dispatch.