Tuesday, September 8, 2009

PROZAC PRESS IGNORES FLU QUARANTINE LAWS IN WAITING

Once again, the prozac press is attempting to squash an issue by concentrating on an aspect easy to dismiss while ignoring underlying problems. In this case, while indeed no quarantine orders have been issued, a number of states have quarantine orders prepared and ready to go. These have been formulated without legislative or media discussion and could prove extremely controversial if ever put into effect. For example, Here's how one Iowa broadcast station handled the story:

KIMT - Health leaders in Iowa are reassuring people that there are no H1N1 related quarantines being ordered. Rumors started swirling after a quarantine form was found by someone on the internet. Polly Carver-Kimm from the state health department says that it's simply a template that was made months ago. She says folks shouldn't expect to see it used anytime soon."

The story ended with the soothing advice to wash your hands. Now here is a more informative story:

Lynda Waddington, Iowa Independent - A quarantine template created by the Iowa Department of Public Health and accessible through the Centers for Disease Control Web site should not be of great concern, according to a press release from health department officials. . . Many public health departments prepare such templates "in preparation for public health emergencies," the agency said, but "isolation and quarantine orders are only very rarely used in very specific situations.". . . The template, which, as expected, contains several fill-in-the-blank information areas, is dated May 1, 2009 and reads as follows. . .

[][][] The Iowa Department of Public Health has determined that you have had contact with a person with Novel Influenza A H1N1. Novel Influenza A H1N1 is a disease which is spread from person to person and is associated with fever (greater than 100.0 F), cough, sore throat, rhinorrhea (runny nose), nasal congestion, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Novel Influenza A H1N1 presents a risk of serious harm to public health and if it spreads in the community severe public health consequences may result.

The Department has determined that it is necessary to quarantine your movement to a specific facility to prevent further spread of this disease. The Department has determined that quarantine in your home and other less restrictive alternatives are not acceptable because [insert the reason home quarantine is not acceptable, the person violated a previously issued home quarantine order, the person does not have an appropriate home setting conducive to home quarantine, etc.] The Department is therefore ordering you to comply with the following provisions during the entire period of quarantine:

1. Terms of confinement. You are ordered to remain at the quarantine facility, [insert name and address of facility], from [insert dates of quarantine].

2. Requirements during confinement. During the period of quarantine:

a. You must not leave the quarantine facility at any time unless you have received prior written authorization from the Department to do so. b. You must not come into contact with anyone except the following persons: (i) other persons who are also under similar quarantine order at the quarantine facility; (ii) authorized healthcare providers and other staff at the quarantine facility; (iii) authorized Department staff or other persons acting on behalf of the Department; and (iv) such other persons as are authorized by the Department. c. Your daily needs, including food, shelter, and medical care, will be provided for you during the period of quarantine at the quarantine facility. You should bring clothing, toiletries, and other personal items with you to the quarantine facility. You will have limited access to a telephone at the quarantine facility. You may bring your cell phone with you should you desire to have greater access to a means of communication. d. You should inform your employer that you are under quarantine order and are not authorized to physically come to the work place, although you may work from the facility via electronic or other means if appropriate. You should be aware that Iowa law prohibits an employer from firing, demoting, or otherwise discriminating against an employee due to the compliance of an employee with a quarantine order issued by the Department. . .

Violations of order. If you fail to comply with this Quarantine Order you may be ordered to be quarantined in a more restrictive facility. In addition, failure to comply with this order is a simple misdemeanor for which you may be arrested, fined, and imprisoned. [][][]

Other states have similar laws in waiting. Some are written in a way that essentially gives the state martial law status. In North Carolina, , failure to comply with an isolation order can result in a jail sentence. In Massachusetts, officials can enter homes without a warrant, and gives the state power over "routes of transportation and over materials and facilities including but not limited to communication devices, carriers, public utilities, fuels, food, clothing, and shelter."

There are a number of problems with all this such as who determines whether the swine flue situation deserves quarantines? The record of past flu analysis is not reassuring. The predictions, after all, are being made by politicians and bureaucrats who want to make sure they are not caught underestimating the problem. While there is little harm in this at the advisory level, it becomes a whole other matter when it results in martial law. Further, neither the media nor the legislatures involved have had anything close to adequate public discussion of the issue.

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