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Quickly Noted: Proposed Quarantine Regulations Dropped

April 23, 2010

After Andrew Speaker’s TB-laced jaunt around the world, the CDC proposed sweeping new regulations that would:

have given the federal government additional powers to detain sick airline passengers and those exposed to certain diseases. They also would have expanded requirements for airlines to report ill passengers to the CDC and mandated that airlines collect and maintain contact information for fliers in case they later needed to be traced as part of an investigation into an outbreak.

At the time, civil liberties groups and the airline industry chafed against the proposed rules calling them “unprecedented” and “coercive” and called for their rejection. Among the proposed regulations that could have been implemented was:

the proposal’s “provisional quarantine” rule. That rule would have allowed the CDC to detain people involuntarily for three business days if the agency believed they had certain diseases: pandemic flu, infectious tuberculosis, plague, cholera, SARS, smallpox, yellow fever, diphtheria or viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.

DHHS withdrew the proposed regulations in January this year noting that new regulations were being drafted that took into account some of the recent lessons learned. Jennifer Nuzzo, of the UPMC Center for Biosecurity was quoted in a USA Today article about the scrapped regulations:

They probably learned during H1N1 that this hope of preventing diseases from entering the country by stationing people at airports is unrealistic.

This is yet another of those lessons learned from H1N1 influenza.

The article I linked to said the regulations were withdrawn on January 20, 2010 and never mention the CDC’s Do Not Board List (which we talked about here before). The timing is interesting because just the week before that date, a TB patient, who was on the Do Not Board list, was held for boarding a plane in Philadelphia and flying to San Francisco. I wonder if the news that episode generated called for the withdrawing of the proposed regulations, and if the Do Not Board list still exists. Anyone with more info than me care to confirm or deny if the list still exists?

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