Feb 3, 2017

Final Rule for Control of Communicable Diseases Uses International Quarantine Powers To Stop Outbreaks

CDC - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the final rule for the Control of Communicable Diseases on January 19th, 2017 which includes amendments to the current domestic (interstate) and foreign quarantine regulations for the control of communicable diseases. These amendments have been made in response to public comments received regarding the notice of proposed rulemaking published on August 15, 2016. This final rule improves CDC's ability to protect against the introduction, transmission, and spread of communicable diseases while ensuring due process. This rule will become effective on February 21st, 2017. The final rule is published on the Office of the Federal Register's website.

Response to public comments

HHS/CDC published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on August 15, 2016, and received 15,800 public comments from individuals, stakeholders, and other interested parties during the 60-day comment period.

These comments covered a range of topics, including concerns regarding:

  • agreements between the CDC and persons subject to federal public health orders,
  • forced vaccination or medical treatment,
  • CDC's constitutional and statutory authority for carrying out quarantine and isolation,
  • data collection from aircraft and vessel operators,
  • people being quarantined for non-quarantinable illnesses,
  • due process,
  • electronic monitoring and surveillance of persons subject to federal public health orders,
  • the proposed definition and requirement for airline and vessel operators to report an "ill person,"
  • public health risk assessments being made by non-medically trained personnel,
  • payment for hospital and other expenses for persons subject to federal public health orders, and 
  • the proposed definition of "indigent."

The Final Rule:

  • Outlines the provisions to reflect input received from individuals, industry, state and federal partners, public health authorities, and other interested parties.
  • Does not authorize compulsory medical testing, vaccination, or medical treatment without prior informed consent.
  • Requires CDC to advise individuals subject to medical examinations that such examinations will be conducted by an authorized health worker and with prior informed consent.
  • Includes strong due process protections for individuals subject to public health orders, including a right to counsel for indigent individuals.
  • Does not expand CDC's authority beyond what is granted by Congress, nor does it alter the list of diseases subject to federal isolation or quarantine, which is established by an Executive Order of the President.
  • Limits to 72 hours the amount of time that an individual may be apprehended pending the issuance of a federal order for isolation, quarantine, or conditional release.
  • Provides the public with explicit information about how and where the CDC conducts public health risk assessments and manages travelers at US ports of entry.

For more information about the Final Rule, please visit the Office of the Federal Register's website.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/final-rule-communicable-diseases.html