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CDC Publishes Final Rule on Quarantine Powers

quarantined

The new rule gives the CDC the power to detain for further health assessment a person who is crossing the U.S. or state borders if he or she is exhibiting certain infection symptoms associated with quarantinable diseases…

The federal government’s legal authority to detain and quarantine persons infected with certain highly communicable and deadly infectious diseases historically primarily has involved detaining people entering the U.S. by boats and airplanes or traveling across state lines.

Federal government officials have long had the authority to apprehend, isolate and quarantine people for a limited number of infectious diseases on the U.S. quarantine list.

However, the legal authority for surveillance, detention and quarantining of citizens residing in the U.S. suspected of being infected with certain non-quarantinable communicable diseases historically has resided with state government health officials.1

On Jan. 17, 2017, the last day of the Obama administration, a new final rule on the Control of Communicable Diseases was issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that is schedule to take effect in March.

The new rule gives the CDC expanded authority to apprehend, isolate and quarantine for at least 72 hours a person entering the U.S. or traveling between states, who is suspected of being infected, or at risk of being infected, with one of the nine diseases on the U.S. quarantine list (cholera, plague, diphtheria, smallpox, yellow fever, infectious tuberculosis, viral hemorrhagic fevers [like Ebola], severe acute respiratory syndrome [SARS] and influenza) that can cause a pandemic.2

The rule also strengthens federal surveillance of travelers for symptoms of non-quarantinable diseases like measles, pertussis and meningococcal disease.3

While proponents are touting the changes as necessary to protect the public health, critics have been arguing since the CDC first published the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in August 2016, that it is an example of government overreach, which poses a risk to  health and civil liberties.4

Because the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) and other organizations advocating for protection of civil liberties urged Americans to contact the CDC and oppose the NPRM last summer, the CDC received more than 15,000 comments from the public, many of them expressing concern that the rule violated the U.S. Constitution, and human and civil rights.

Although the CDC rejected this characterization, the agency did make changes to the final rule, including eliminating a provision that would have allowed the CDC to require individuals to agree to submit to public health measures such as hospitalization, vaccination and medical treatment.

In addition, the final rule states that medical examinations can only be conducted with prior informed consent.5

Who Could Be Quarantined Under the New Rule?

The new rule gives the CDC the power to detain for further health assessment a person who is crossing the U.S. or state borders if he or she is exhibiting certain infection symptoms associated with quarantinable diseases, such as fever, headache and acute gastroenteritis (abdominal cramps, loose stools or vomiting).

The new rule also makes it clear that rash and cough symptoms of non-quarantinable infectious diseases, such as measles and pertussis, among travelers are going to be more closely monitored by federal government officials as well.

For non-quarantinable diseases, CDC will be working with state health departments, who have the legal authority to detain and quarantine citizens suspected of being infected with, or at risk for, being infected with a communicable disease.

James Hodge Jr., a professor of public health law and ethics at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, told NPR, “Because of the breadth and scope of the definition of ill persons, CDC can target a much wider swath of persons to assess and screen.”6

Airline Pilots and Ship Operators to Become Surveillance Crews?

The new rule also includes new reporting requirements for airplanes and ships. If the rules take effect, airline pilots and ship operators would be required to report not only deaths on board but also “certain overt and common signs and symptoms of sick travelers” to the CDC prior to arriving into the U.S. Barbara Loe Fisher, NVIC co-founder and president noted:7

It is not a good idea to make the public’s airport experience even more difficult by enlisting flight crews to report passengers with symptoms that could be nothing more than eczema, acne, norovirus or the common cold.
… What started out as a vacation could be turned into a nightmare spent in an airport quarantine center.

The required signs and symptoms include the following, and must be reported not only during international travel, but also on airline flights flying domestically, between states:8

Airlines

(1) Fever (defined as measured temperature of 100.4 degrees F [38 degrees C] or greater, feels warm to the touch or gives a history of feeling feverish)

AND one of the following:

  • Skin rash
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent cough
  • Decreased consciousness or recent onset of confusion
  • New unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Persistent vomiting (other than airsickness)
  • Headache with stiff neck
  • Appearing obviously unwell; OR

(2) Fever that has persisted for more than 48 hours; OR

(3) Other signs or symptoms of communicable disease CDC is concerned about and has announced in the Federal Register.

Ships

(1) Fever (defined as measured temperature of 100.4 degrees F [38 degrees C] or greater, feels warm to the touch or gives a history of feeling feverish)

AND one of the following:

  • Skin rash
  • Difficulty breathing or suspected or confirmed pneumonia
  • Persistent cough or cough with bloody sputum
  • Decreased consciousness or recent onset of confusion
  • New unexplained bruising or bleeding
  • Persistent vomiting (other than seasickness)
  • Headache with stiff neck
  • Appearing obviously unwell; OR

(2) Fever that has persisted for more than 48 hours; OR

(3) Acute gastroenteritis (inflammation of stomach or intestines or both), defined as:

  • Diarrhea, defined as within a 24-hour period, three or more episodes of loose stools or an occurrence of loose stools that is above normal for the person, or
  • Vomiting and one or more of the following additional symptoms: one or more episodes of loose stools in a 24-hour period, abdominal cramps, headache, muscle aches or fever (temperature of 100.4 degrees F [38 degrees C] or greater); OR

(4) Other signs or symptoms of communicable disease CDC is concerned about and has announced in the Federal Register.

Is This Part of Global Efforts to Eradicate Measles?

In August 2016, NPRM, the CDC pointed to “the ongoing persistence of measles in the United States” as an example of why the updated rules are necessary. They even said, “Every case of measles in the United States is considered a public health emergency because of its extremely high transmissibility.”9

The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. health officials have targeted mass MMR vaccination campaigns as the solution to eradicating measles, even though serious questions remain about the vaccine’s efficacy and safety.

In the final rule, measles outbreaks in the U.S. were again highlighted. It illustrates why travelers with a rash or cough could become the subject of scrutiny and reporting to the CDC by airline and other public transportation personnel as the federal government more closely monitors almost all signs of illness in all travelers.

Will the New Rules Backfire?

Once it becomes widespread knowledge that an airline pilot or ship’s captain must report symptoms of common illness directly to the federal government, and that information could be used to immediately detain or quarantine you, there’s a good chance people may try to evade the system. Jennifer Nuzzo, a research epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told NPR:10

The worst-case scenario is that people may try to evade these procedures by, say, taking medicines to reduce their fever, or be afraid to report it if they are feeling ill on a plane … We don’t want to drive cases underground by putting measures in place that seem as though they carry some penalties associated with them.

Emergency Health Measures Should Be Grounded in Science, Not Fear

While one concern is that increased surveillance of travelers by health officials could drive diseases underground, another is that overreaching power could allow people to be wrongly detained. An op-ed piece in The New York Times described the case of Kaci Hickox, who had volunteered as a nurse treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

She had no known exposure to the disease, as she had worn heavy protective gear, but upon her return to the U.S., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ordered her quarantined to an area hospital. This was against the current CDC guidelines, which stated she should monitor herself for symptoms at home.

“It’s imperative that whenever the next outbreak hits, emergency health measures are grounded in scientific evidence and guided by clear, fair rules to protect people from wrongful deprivation of their liberties,” the Times piece states, continuing:11

That incident wasn’t an anomaly. During a bubonic plague outbreak in 1900, for example, government officials quarantined the entire Chinatown neighborhood of San Francisco.
The quarantine applied only to Chinese residents, and lacked any scientific basis. It was fueled by little more than naked fear and racism. Given this history, we want to ensure that federal officials applying the new regulations will act on the basis of science and evidence and not on politics and public fear.

What Diseases are Covered in the Quarantine Rules?

According to the new rules, “CDC may apprehend, detain, examine or conditionally release an individual if it reasonably believes that he/she may be infected with or exposed to a quarantinable communicable disease.”12 Those diseases currently include the following:

  • Cholera
  • Diphtheria
  • Infectious tuberculosis
  • Plague
  • Smallpox
  • Yellow fever
  • Viral hemorrhagic fevers (Lassa, Marburg, Ebola, Crimean-Congo, South American and others not yet isolated or named)
  • Severe acute respiratory syndromes (e.g., SARS, MERS)
  • Influenza caused by novel or reemergent influenza viruses that are causing, or have the potential to cause, a pandemic

However, as mentioned, the new rule also allows the CDC to step up federal surveillance of travelers displaying a number of common illness symptoms associated with non-quarantinable diseases like measles and pertussis.

Although travelers found to be infected with or at risk for being infected with a non-quarantinable disease like measles cannot be quarantined by federal health officials, state health officials do have the legal authority to detain and quarantine residents infected with certain communicable diseases, depending upon the state’s public health laws.

The final rule was originally scheduled to go into effect Feb. 21, 2017. However, with the change in administration, the new regulations are being reviewed and will not take effect until the end of March 2017, at the earliest.13


Note: This article was reprinted with the author’s permission. It was originally published on Dr. Mercola’s website at www.mercola.com.

References:

6 Responses to CDC Publishes Final Rule on Quarantine Powers

  1. Chris Reply

    February 17, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    What a joke! So people can and do get allergies(among the myriad of escalating diseases we now have) from vaccines and if they happen to look suspiciously sick, they get pressure and maybe one day forced vaccines into their bodies. The very culprit that made them look suspiciously sick ie allergies from vaccines, is being put into them again! This is so convoluted and ridiculous, it’s really even hard for me to explain this scenario. I’m frightened and appalled by the insanity of all of this. I’m wondering if even those who believe in vaccines might think the major push for vaccine laws is going too far, that there is a political agenda? It’s way obvious to the critical thinker that there is, which would be greed or population control. This fascist system we are now under, creeping in ever so slowly is. I pray to God people wake-up as one day, our rights to our bodies will be stripped. Our wake-up call has been and is now in here.

    • Chris Reply

      February 17, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      I didn’t proof read well enough. At the end, I didn’t finish my sentence. Basically, I wanted to say the government is encroaching on our liberties at such a snails pace (now very quickly going for the throat), that people are not noticing. Our wake-up call is here and now. Don’t wait until your children are dead or injured or the statistics reveal much worse.

  2. Dr Ron Drucker Reply

    February 16, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Before you permit yourself or a loved one from receiving a vaccination, look up: Contents and ingredients of vaccines. What you find will be shocking to say the least: Foreign DNA and RNA, aluminum and mercury, human aborted fetal tissues (diploid cells), viral particles, preservatives and other poisonous and noxious chemicals and contaminants; most of which are both scientifically and morally repugnant.

  3. Dr Ron Drucker Reply

    February 16, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Anyone can also visit “The National Vaccine Information Center” for further proof of the vaccine folly.

  4. Dr Ron Drucker Reply

    February 16, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    This latest example of Government overreach is both unscientific and morally and ethically repugnant. Measles, for example, is almost always a self-limiting infection that is actually beneficial (especially for children and young adults,)as it aids in the development of a healthy immune system; as does so many “childhood infections”. A child needs to experience fevers, so as to strengthen and maturate their immune system. The flu vaccine is a disaster, as more persons suffer flu symptoms and infections who take the vaccine than those that aren’t vaccinated; not to mention allergic reactions and future autoimmune doseases. The MMR vaccine has statistically and scientifically been associated with autism, reduced I. Q. and other dysfunctions. Most “communicable diseases” were already on the decline (due to natural or acquired immunity and public sanitation), before the advent of mass vaccinations. For further proof, read: “Aids, Ebola and The Emerging Viruses” by Leonard Horowitz, DDS, PhD (in public health), Harvard and Tufts University graduate.

  5. Deni Ann Gereighty, BSN, RN Reply

    February 16, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    How or who is supposed to make this determination. I am an RN and I know that asking a airplane pilot or ships’s captain to report illness ill be a disaster. They know nothing of medicine but they do know fear and panic. What basis could any of these people or a federal agent at the airport know about health or medicine or nursing? Who is taking this temperature or deciding a traveler feels ‘feverish or warm?” How do they intend to differentiate air sickness from persistent vomiting? A rash can be from many things and not even a dermatologist can tell what it is from looking at it, so how many people with a simple rash from a million causes will be detained to prevent one case of measles? How is privacy going to be addressed? It is insane what you go thru now to get on a plane; none of those guards are able to be empowered with quarantining infectious people. If you want to examine travelers you need to hire doctors and nurses to inspect each person and that is a lot of money. Do they get detained before getting on plane or when they arrive in what might be a strange country, dont know the language and cannot explain it is a rash from mangoes or wool or ecxema. Very bad idea!

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