Can quarantine solve the COVID-19 Issue?
Even though the time hasn’t come in the United States when the state and federal laws have to be enforced to keep people indoors in quarantine, the government holds the authority to impose strict laws and take proper action if the citizens do not follow quarantines properly.
The experts in healthcare suggest that quarantines would be an effective measure to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading.
To give a better idea, here are the two major conditions that are pertaining to the disease:
- Even before one observes symptoms, the condition is infectious.
- It can turn to a fatal one and can have adverse medical consequences.
Federal enforcement laws
The federal authority is applicable as per Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act. As per the law, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services holds all rights to make decisions that can prevent the spreading or the entry of any communicable diseases from other countries into the States or between the different states.
The federal law also gives enforcement powers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As per 42 U.S. Code § 264 of the parts of the federal regulations 70 and 71 in the States, CDC can medically examine, detain, or release individuals that arrive in the country or are traveling between its states and show symptoms for carrying any communicable diseases.
A peek into the State quarantine authority
The United States has a total of 2800 local health departments. All of these departments exercise different enforcement powers. Thus, it is difficult to manage a quarantine uniformly across all the departments.
In the U.S., 27% of the states give this power to the state authorities only, while 18% of the states delegate certain power to the local governments as well. The remaining 55% of these states follow a combination of both.
The National Conference of State Legislatures holds a list of the quarantine and isolation laws followed in all the states. There are several states that also permit fining and arresting citizens in case it catches them in the act of violation of the quarantine and isolation laws of that state.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) also published a study regarding the quarantines and isolation laws. As per the study, an effective approach for quarantines would be to provide the quarantined individuals some kind of job security. At present, only 20% of the states in the U.S. have provision for job security during circumstances involving quarantine.
Previous quarantines in the United States
The concept of quarantines has existed for a long time in the States. Even the Bible mentions about quarantines and the instructions that one should follow to quarantine individuals suffering from a communicable disease. In those times, even the individuals with a boil or any other skin disorder were asked to visit the priest.
Sometime in the 1600s, there were provisions for quarantining the individuals arriving at the Boston Harbor on ships. These were the individuals who showed symptoms of smallpox or yellow fever.
Throughout these years, multiple quarantine laws have come up in different states of the U.S. Apart from this COVID-19 issue, the United States has witnessed several other communicable diseases as well that affected its population on a large scale. These would include diseases such as Tuberculosis and Ebola.
What should be expected?
The spread of COVID-19 across the globe is resulting in difficult times for everyone. Individuals from all the different occupational sectors are suffering greatly due to the outbreak of this disease. Therefore, one can expect tougher and more challenging times than the current scenario in the future. If there comes such a time, the U.S. citizens can expect enforcement of strict quarantine and isolation laws in their respective states. Furthermore, for a comparative criminal analysis of COVID-19 look this post.