Forced Detention of Suspected Viral Carriers Proposed in New York Bill

New York legislators are now considering a bill that will empower Governor Andrew Cuomo and health commissioners to 'detain or remove' persons they deem a public health risk.

Forced Detention of Suspected Viral Carriers Proposed in New York Bill

New York legislators are now considering a bill that will empower Governor Andrew Cuomo and health commissioners to ‘detain or remove’ persons they deem a public health risk.

The bill would effectively grant Cuomo and other state officials the legal authority to forcibly confine individuals who they suspect were exposed to, or carriers of a contagious disease.

The language of the bill is written so that someone does not have to be proven a carrier of a contagion, but merely suspected to be, permitting the “REMOVAL AND DETENTION OF CASES, CONTACTS AND CARRIERS WHO ARE OR MAY BE A DANGER TO PUBLIC HEALTH.

The proposed legislation permits persons suspected of having any illness determined to have a high morbidity rate to be subjected to tests, medical examinations, treatment, preventative medication, and vaccination by the state while being held.

Without any court order, subjects can be detained for up to 60 days. Forced detainment can exceed 90 days with a judicial review.

The detained persons may be released only after subjective scrutiny from health departments, which will determine that the person “no longer presents a potential danger to the health of others.”

The bill is on track to be reviewed next week by the state assembly’s health committee.

The bill in part reads:

“UPON DETERMINING BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT THE HEALTH OF OTHERS IS OR MAY BE ENDANGERED BY A CASE, CONTACT OR CARRIER, OR SUSPECTED CASE, CONTACT OR CARRIER OF A CONTAGIOUS DISEASE THAT, IN THE OPINION OF THE GOVERNOR, AFTER CONSULTATION WITH THE COMMISSIONER, MAY POSE AN IMMINENT AND SIGNIFICANT THREAT TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH RESULTING IN SEVERE MORBIDITY OR HIGH MORTALITY, THE GOVERNOR OR HIS OR HER DELEGEE, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE COMMISSIONER OR THE HEADS OF LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENTS, MAY ORDER THE REMOVAL AND/OR DETENTION OF SUCH A PERSON OR OF A GROUP OF SUCH PERSONS BY ISSUING A SINGLE ORDER, IDENTIFYING SUCH PERSONS EITHER BY NAME OR BY A REASONABLY SPECIFIC DESCRIPTION OF THE INDIVIDUALS OR GROUP BEING DETAINED. SUCH PERSON OR GROUP OF PERSONS SHALL BE DETAINED IN A MEDICAL FACILITY OR OTHER APPROPRIATE FACILITY OR PREMISES DESIGNATED BY THE GOVERNOR OR HIS OR HER DELEGEE AND COMPLYING WITH SUBDIVISION FIVE OF THIS SECTION.”

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