Nice to see a national business publication such as Forbes covering the Ebola quarantine issue. This article predicting more quarantines and outlining problem with the current law is well worth reading.
A couple of takeaways:
“Under current law, the federal government is responsible for quarantining individuals traveling from outside the U.S. or between states, while state governments have quarantine authority over people traveling within state boundaries.”
To me, this says that the “patchwork” of policies put in place by governors is likely to continue. And I’m OK with that because I want states to utilize their own powers because no two states are going to have exactly the same issues. A state like new Jersey with large urban centers and lots of international travel is going to have a different issues than a state like Wyoming.
In my opinion, confining someone to a tent in a hospital parking lot shows a lack of planning, foresight and common sense. Tents and chemical toilets should be your last option, not your first. If you want to quarantine people, rent or buy a hotel. Staff it with medical personnel who can take temperatures and spot early symptoms. Keep the kitchen staff working and provide room service, linens, free WiFi and paid TV. My guess is that people will grumble, but law suits will decline.
Ebola disease will never become epidemic in the U.S. (so long the virus doesn’t mutate in ways that make it far more contagious). But the prospect of larger and more frequent outbreaks is likely. As we have seen with the anxiety engendered by just a few isolated cases, if we were to have even a dozen cases in a major U.S. city, it could have a substantial impact on our economic and social life.
Economic impact is a good point. Just keep in mind the Anthrax attacks and how much disruption that caused. Every time someone spilled some salt, they called in the HazMat team. If Ebola remains confined to Africa, it will be an on-again, off-again news story that flares into the public eye every time an American gets sick. If it starts to spread to Europe, Asia or the U.S., then people will start to worry and stock markets will start dropping and there will be an impact on the travel industry as airline and cruise ships see a drop in passengers.