A patient with the Ebola virus is expected to arrive at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday afternoon. A second patient will follow shortly thereafter. In the wake of bringing Ebola infected patients to the United States, some are questioning the timing of and executive order signed by President Obama that expanded the list of diseases that allow the government to apprehend and detain U.S. citizens with certain acute respiratory diseases, not including influenza.
The executive order modifies one signed in 2003 by George Bush that allowed for the detention and quarantine of those with SARS.
“Severe acute respiratory syndromes, which are diseases that are associated with fever and signs and symptoms of pneumonia or other respiratory illness, are capable of being transmitted from person to person, and that either are causing, or have the potential to cause, a pandemic, or, upon infection, are highly likely to cause mortality or serious morbidity if not properly controlled,” the executive order reads. “This subsection does not apply to influenza.”
The same subsection in the original order read: “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which is a disease associated with fever and signs and symptoms of pneumonia or other respiratory illness, is transmitted from person to person predominantly by the aerosolized or droplet route, and, if spread in the population, would have severe public health consequences.”
Read More – Obama Ebola Executive Order?
Executive Order — Revised List of Quarantinable Communicable Diseases
REVISED LIST OF QUARANTINABLE COMMUNICABLE DISEASES
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 264(b) of title 42, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Amendment to Executive Order 13295. Based upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Acting Surgeon General, and for the purposes set forth in section 1 of Executive Order 13295 of April 4, 2003, as amended by Executive Order 13375 of April 1, 2005, section 1 of Executive Order 13295 shall be further amended by replacing subsection (b) with the following:
“(b) Severe acute respiratory syndromes, which are diseases that are associated with fever and signs and symptoms of pneumonia or other respiratory illness, are capable of being transmitted from person to person, and that either are causing, or have the potential to cause, a pandemic, or, upon infection, are highly likely to cause mortality or serious morbidity if not properly controlled. This subsection does not apply to influenza.”
Sec. 2. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Amendment comes in wake of Ebola scare
Although the quarantining of people suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus seems like a perfectly logical move, the actual preconditions for this to happen aren’t restricted to just those suffering from the disease.
As we highlighted earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has measures in place for dealing with an outbreak of a communicable disease which allow for the quarantine of “well persons” who “do not show symptoms” of the disease.
In addition, under the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, public health authorities and governors would be given expanded police powers to seize control of communications devices, public and private property, as well as a host of other draconian measures in the event of a public health emergency.
When the legislation was introduced, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons warned that it “could turn governors into dictators.”
Yesterday it was reported that Emory University Hospital in Atlanta was set to receive a patient infected with Ebola. A hospital in Germany also accepted an infected patient earlier this week. Some critics have raised concerns about the risk of deliberately importing infected individuals into the west.