January 13, 2015
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Scientist wearing protective suitA new federal executive order expands the list of illnesses for which you could be detained, isolated, and treated against your will if you are entering the US or traveling between states—even if you are completely healthy. Some states have similar or worse laws that would even allow entry into your home.
President Obama has signed an executive order expanding the list of illnesses that could result in forced detention, isolation, and quarantine for anyone exposed, even if they are not sick. It updates a Bush-era executive order, adding “severe acute respiratory syndromes” except for influenza to the list of detainable communicable diseases.
The Public Health Service Act allows the government to apprehend and detain individuals based on communicable diseases named in the Act, or named by presidential executive orders. Executive orders do not have to get congressional approval.
Not only can people with the disease be forcibly isolated, but the CDC also has the power to quarantine anyone who may have been exposed. The new executive order allows detentions for “diseases that are associated with fever and signs and symptoms of pneumonia or other respiratory illness…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” [italics ours]. In other words, if you have been exposed to one of the listed communicable diseases—even if you do not show symptoms—you may be forcibly detained and quarantined.
This is broad authority, as the CDC notes: “In addition to serving as medical functions, isolation and quarantine also are ‘police power’ functions, derived from the right of the state to take action affecting individuals for the benefit of society.” And since this is federal law, it covers people entering into the United States and people traveling between states as well.
Even worse, because of various draconian state laws, individuals can also be detained against their will within their state—which includes being forced from their home. Once in quarantine, a potentially toxic drug regimen is generally enforced. While detention authority and scope differs from state to state, some have excessively broad powers. For example
In Alabama, the governor or state board of health may proclaim a quarantine whenever it is deemed necessary. The board of health has full powers of enforcement, and may formulate any rules it believes necessary.
In Idaho, the state reserves the right to enter an individual’s home by force if an occupant may have been exposed.
Maine reserves the right to impose emergency regulations at the mere threat of an outbreak.
New York can also detain patients in a locked ward at Bellevue hospital.
In 2009 the Massachusetts Senate considered a bill allowing the police, during a declared public health emergency, to arrest people without a warrant if they have “probable cause” to think they’re not complying with orders (including verbal orders from the public health commissioner or local public health authority). Under this bill, citizens could have been detained for as long as necessary for the public authorities to “convey information to you regarding the disease.” Happily, because of grassroots activists like you and opposition from the Massachusetts House, the bill did not pass and was never reintroduced.
Of deep concern is that, in most instances, natural treatments will be denied in favor of state-mandated treatments. In New York, for example, a patient with tuberculosis was placed in mandatory isolation for two weeks—and now, even after being released from isolation, he still must take three powerful antibiotics every day and is monitored by health officials via smartphone from his home. In Arkansas, for those under mandated treatment for tuberculosis, “disorderly conduct” can be punished with confinement of up to six months. Does disorderly conduct include not accepting the state-mandated treatment? We don’t know for certain, but it seems likely.
Keep yourself healthy! Vitamin D is an excellent preventive treatment for influenza and other viral diseases, and is being studied as a powerful tool to treat and prevent tuberculosis and other communicable diseases and potential pandemics. For other viral treatments, see our recent article on the Ebola virus.