Declarations, Quarantine & Isolation

Declarations, Quarantine and Isolation





Bush issues first-ever non-disaster declaration of an emergency, New York Times, January 13, 2009

"The president's power to declare a state of emergency is typically used after hurricanes, floods or other natural disasters, although Mr. Stanzel said presidents have occasionally declared emergencies in advance of an anticipated event. But never before, he said, has an advance emergency declaration been used for a "non-disaster.""


Declaration of a National Emergency With Respect to the 2009 H1N1 Influenza Pandemic (White House, Oct 24, 2009)


Quarantine decision will be left to the locals (MSNBC)

"Many states adopted new legislation to deal with emerging health emergencies in the wake of Sept. 11, says James Hodge, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and executive director of the Centers for Law and the Public's Health. Hodge and others at the center drafted a model for this kind of legislation that's been adopted in whole or in part by 35 states.

"Although the federal government can declare a state of emergency, that only serves to free up resources -- such as its stockpiled medicines -- for use by the states, Hodge explains.

"The next steps, including the power to isolate or quarantine citizens, rests in the hands of the states, or in some cases, local governments. Most can choose to do so on a case-by-case basis."


Will Swine Flu Merit Quarantines? If So, New Laws Give States Authority (ABA Journal)

"But if quarantines are needed--and Hodge emphasizes there's no evidence so far that they are a necessity here--it will likely be up to state and local governments to take action. Two model laws drafted by the Centers for Law and the Public Health give states specific authority to act. They are the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act and the more comprehensive Turning Point Model State Public Health Act. Hodge says more than half the states have adopted some form of the model laws.

"States acting under such laws could order flu testing, ban public gatherings, and issue a sweeping quarantine order, Hodge says. Those states without the new laws may have to rely on more general emergency powers, he says."


Federal and State Quarantine and Isolation Authority, Congressional Research Service, January 23, 2007

 "The public health authority of the states derives from the police powers reserved to them by the Tenth
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The authority of the federal government to prescribe quarantine and
other health measures is based on the Commerce Clause, which gives Congress exclusive authority to
regulate interstate and foreign commerce. Thus, state and local governments have the primary authority to
control the spread of dangerous diseases within their jurisdictions, and the federal government has authority
to quarantine and impose other health measures to prevent the spread of diseases from foreign countries
and between states. In addition, the federal government may assist state efforts to prevent the spread of
communicable diseases if requested by a state or if state efforts are inadequate to halt the spread of disease."

"With the exception of the habeas corpus clause, the Constitution makes no allowance for the suspension of any of its provisions during a national emergency. Disputes over the constitutionality or legality of the exercise of emergency powers are judicially reviewable. Indeed, both the judiciary and Congress, as co-equal branches, can restrain the executive regarding emergency powers. So can public opinion. Furthermore, since 1976, the President has been subject to certain procedural formalities in utilizing some statutorily delegated emergency authority. The National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601-1651) eliminated or modified some statutory grants of emergency authority; required the President to declare formally the existence of a national emergency and to specify what statutory authority, activated by the declaration, would be used; and provided Congress a means to countermand the President's declaration and the activated authority being sought."


"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today proposed critical updates to existing regulations that will allow the agency to move more swiftly to control a potential outbreak of disease that may result when a sick passenger arrives in the United States via commercial airline or ship." 

The Rule:  Department of Health and Human Services, Federal Register/Vol. 70, No. 229/Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Jacobson v Massachusetts: It's Not Your Great-Great-Grandfather's Public Health Law - American Journal of Public Health

"Preserving the public's health in the 21st century requires preserving respect for personal liberty."