Former FDA official Scott Gottlieb, M.D. warns that under current CDC procedures, healthy Americans who show no symptoms of the virus could be detained indefinitely if Ebola hits the United States.
In an article for Forbes entitled If Ebola Arrives In The U.S., Stopping It May Rely On Controversial Tools, Gottlieb, former Director of Medical Policy Development for the Food and Drug Administration, asserts that Ebola is likely to arrive in the U.S. and that if it does the CDC will invoke powers to “hold a healthy person against his will.”
“Given the deadly nature of the Ebola virus, and the popular worry it’s likely to engender, one can expect the CDC and health authorities to pull out all the stops. The response could include invocation of the CDC’s evolving quarantine authorities,” writes Gottlieb, noting the CDC’s “sweeping authority to hold and isolate Americans in a public health emergency.”
The doctor points to CDC provisions which we first highlighted last month which allow for the forcible quarantine of “well persons” as well as those who “do not show symptoms” of the virus.
“The set of regulations also included a new “provisional quarantine” rule that would have allowed CDC to detain people involuntarily for up to three days, with no mechanism for appeal,” writes Gottlieb, adding, “You don’t have to be sick to be detained.”
The doctor cautions that if Ebola hits during flu season, the delay in testing blood samples could lead to some Americans being detained against their will for weeks.
Gottlieb also points an executive order passed by Obama on July 31st which allows for the detention of Americans who merely display signs of any “respiratory illness.”
Raising concerns that the feds may be “assuming too much jurisdiction to detain people involuntarily,” Gottlieb is calling for a debate about “troubling” measures which could lead to “spooky scenarios where people could be detained for long periods, merely on a suspicion they might have been exposed to some pathogen. And forced to submit to certain medical interventions to gain their freedom.”
While Gottlieb sees “mass detentions” as being unlikely in the event of an Ebola outbreak, the regulations in place could lead to such a scenario if an equally deadly but more contagious pathogen like SARS hits the U.S.
Given his prominent position, the doctor’s concern about CDC quarantine measures which could lead to the forcible detention of healthy Americans is interesting given that some in the mainstream media dismissed our coverage of this very issue as a ‘conspiracy theory’ less than two weeks ago.