WASHINGTON–(EON: Enhanced Online News)–A Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM): Control of Communicable Diseases was published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Aug. 15, 2016 that will amend federal public health law to allow health officials to take into custody and involuntarily quarantine travelers, who have symptoms of or have been exposed to someone with symptoms common to measles, chickenpox and a wide range of other communicable diseases. The non-profit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is calling the proposed change to the Public Health Service Act “a violation of civil liberties.”
“This is a clear case of federal government overreach”
If the NPRM becomes law, it will affect American and non-American travelers entering the U.S. or traveling between states, particularly on commercial airlines and ships. The CDC is proposing to enlist commercial airline and other public transportation personnel to step up surveillance on and report “unwell” passengers with rashes, cough, diarrhea and other symptoms of illness.
“This is a clear case of federal government overreach,” said Barbara Loe Fisher, NVIC Co-founder and President. “Measles is not Ebola and chickenpox is not smallpox. U.S. health officials should not be expanding police power to take people into custody and place them in involuntary quarantine whenever they believe someone is sick or could become sick with illnesses that are far less serious than hemorrhagic fever and the plague.”
If the NPRM becomes law, it appears U.S. health officials could hold a person in custody for 72 hours without the right to contact an attorney to appeal the detention. Detainees could be asked to sign a contract with the CDC that gives consent to the “public health measures” being applied to the adult or a minor child, which may include “quarantine, isolation, conditional release, medical examination, hospitalization, vaccination, and treatment.” However, the NPRM states that “the individual’s consent shall not be considered a prerequisite to any exercise of any authority” by the CDC. After release, the person can be electronically tracked and monitored, including by electronic tracking devices attached to the body.
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