A new bill unveiled in Texas today would give sweeping powers to enforce preemptive quarantines to fight the spread of infectious diseases throughout the state.
The new legislation would allow the Texas Health Commissioner to impose immediate mandatory quarantines on patients infected with contagious diseases or face legal consequences. While the bill is in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa which led to patient zero Thomas Eric Duncan winding up in a Dallas emergency room, Ebola is not the only disease the health commissioner can call a quarantine for.
Via The Statesman:
The bill includes provisions that would allow the governor to declare a state of infectious disease emergency; create a regional stockpile of personal protection equipment for health care workers and first responders; detain a plane or other transportation carrier if someone on board has a serious communicable disease; allow authorities to test the blood of pets for disease without a control order; allow cremation of remains without authorization; and allow state authorities to quarantine people at risk of contracting or spreading a serious disease.
Under current law, authorities can only enforce an isolation order if the person is caught violating it, said Dr. Brett Giroir, task force director and CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center.
The bill is reportedly in the interest of public safety, but the slippery slope here is obvious enough.
How long until we begin seeing bills enforcing mandatory vaccinations trotted out in the same interest?
In the wake of the measles outbreak at Disneyland in California, bills have been introduced in six states including California, Oregon, Maine, Minnesota, Vermont and Washington to make it a lot more difficult or eliminate altogether a parent’s right to exempt their child from vaccinations due to personal beliefs.
Texas State Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, said Friday he plans to introduce a similar bill as well.
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