The CDC’s New Quarantine Rule Could Violate Civil Liberties

Dec 31, 2016

By Ed Yong

On August 15th, with little fanfare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took steps to improve its ability to deal with infectious outbreaks. The agency proposed a new rule that would expand its powers to screen, test, and quarantine people traveling into or within the United States, in the event of a crisis like the historic Ebola outbreak of 2014.

On the face of it, this sounds like a good thing. The threat of infectious diseases is omnipresent and growing. Familiar threats like flu, Ebola, or measles continually rear their heads, often in new guises, while completely new dangers like MERS or SARS can take the world by surprise. When that happens, the CDC must act quickly and decisively—and its new powers will purportedly help it to do so.

But some epidemiologists, lawyers, and health organizations say that the rule, in its current form poses a serious threat to civil liberties, allowing authorities to detain and examine people with little heed to due process and informed consent.


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One comment on “The CDC’s New Quarantine Rule Could Violate Civil Liberties”

  • @OP But some epidemiologists, lawyers, and health organizations say that the rule, in its current form poses a serious threat to civil liberties, allowing authorities to detain and examine people with little heed to due process and informed consent.

    This rather sounds like the usual reckless “me! me! me! and sod the planet and the rest of you” brigade!

    Ecosystems and crops are already under massive attacks from invasive species, spread by careless, ignorant, and reckless individuals and enterprises.

    If countries cannot get a grip on regulating transport and travel, to stop major diseases spreading across the globe, quarantine systems will fail.

    @OP link – The CDC tried this play in 2005, proposing a rule that would have expanded their quarantine powers and required airlines to maintain a traveler database. But after a wave of critical comments, including from the travel industry, they shelved the rule.

    OOOoh! Airlines being required to keep traveller records, and quarantine health checks before entry (like most countries have for animals coming from abroad travelling from areas with infections)!

    Ah! Business as usual prioritised over safety!
    No surprises there in the US!

    Its new incarnation is similar, but perhaps even broader in scope. It covers “public-health emergencies,” which are defined as any “communicable disease event” that the Director thinks could spread or “is highly likely to cause death or serious illness if not properly controlled.”

    New threats keep emerging, so it makes sense to avoid delays while politicians and commercial interests argue about updating lists, and so we follow the precautionary principle to take rapid action to halt the problems, while risks are further assessed.

    Ebola has already been spread to some distant countries, while politicians waffled, and dodged the issues!

    Of course people can either follow quarantine rules which stop the spread of infection at source, or they can chase the infection all over the countryside, at much greater cost later!

    http://www.mad-cow.org/00/jan01_late.html
    The quarantine of 1,221 cattle and recall of 22 tons of feed out of fears about mad cow disease may have been caused by a mill that disclosed a possible rule violation.

    A Purina Mills spokesman said Friday the company had begun phasing out the use of meat and bone meal from cows in any of its livestock feed. Beef byproducts are banned for cattle or sheep feed but commonly used in swine and poultry feed.

    This (quarantine) just happened to be a matter of timing. But as of last night, we are no longer using it,” said Max Fisher, a spokesman for St. Louis-based Purina Mills, the nation’s largest maker of livestock feed. It’s a voluntary move on our behalf and takes us down to a zero risk factor for a misformulation in the future.”

    A recent FDA report found hundreds of feed makers were violating labeling requirements and other rules associated with the ban. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has organized a private meeting Monday involving representatives of the industry and officials from the FDA and the Agriculture Department to press for better compliance.



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