2009 Influenza A(H1N1) Outbreak: Selected Legal Issues [May 4, 2009]   [open pdf - 338KB]

"Recent human cases of infection with a novel influenza A(H1N1) virus have been identified both internationally and in the United States. Since there has been human to human transmission and the new virus has the potential to become pandemic, it is timely to examine the legal issues surrounding this emerging public health threat. This report provides a brief overview of selected legal issues including emergency measures, civil rights, liability issues, and employment issues. There are a number of emergency measures which may help to contain or ameliorate an infectious disease outbreak. The Public Health Service Act and the Stafford Act contain authorities that allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the President, respectively, to take certain actions during emergencies or disasters. While the primary authority for quarantine and isolation in the United States resides at the state level, the federal government has jurisdiction over interstate and border quarantine. Border entry and border closing issues may arise in the context of measures designed to keep individuals who have, or may have, influenza A(H1N1) from crossing U.S. borders. Aliens with the H1N1 virus can be denied entry, but American citizens cannot be excluded from the United States solely because of a communicable disease, although they may be quarantined or isolated at the border for health reasons. Airlines have considerable discretion to implement travel restrictions relating to the safety and/or security of flights and other passengers and crew. In addition, the federal government has broad legal authority to regulate and control the navigable airspace of the United States in dealing with incidents involving communicable diseases."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R40560
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
United States. Department of State, Foreign Press Centers, Bureau of Public Affairs: http://www.fpc.state.gov/
Media Type:
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