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Bracing for Armageddon?The Science and Politics of Bioterrorism in America$
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William R Clark

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336214

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336214.001.0001

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Political, Legal, and Social Issues in a National Health Emergency

Political, Legal, and Social Issues in a National Health Emergency

(p.133) Chapter 8 Political, Legal, and Social Issues in a National Health Emergency
Bracing for Armageddon?

William R. Clark

Oxford University Press

Who is running the show in a nation-wide health crisis? The federal government? Individual states? Preservation of the public health is a power granted to individual states, as an exercise of their constitutionally guaranteed policing powers. But recent legislation (and funding) have put a huge number of resources into the federal government's hands. Lines of fiscal and administrative authority must be worked out in advance of any real crisis. One of the most important powers needed in catastrophic health crises concerns coercive powers: mandatory medical examinations and treatment of at-risk individuals, for example, or compulsory isolation or quarantining of infected persons, or even confiscation of contaminated property or human remains. To deal with these and other critical issues, a Model State Emergency Health Powers Act was drafted in 2001. This chapter looks at this Act, and the numerous issues it has tried to address.

Keywords:   isolation, quarantine, compulsory treatment, surge capacity, privacy, triage, civil disorder, social distancing

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