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Public Health Emergency Bill Awaits Governor's Signature

A new measure could empower state health officials to impose quarantines.
Jason Scragz via Flickr

A bill on Gov. Rick Scott’s desk would empower state health officials to develop new procedures for establishing quarantines.  There’s less than a week left to decide on the public health emergencies bill.

Doctors Without Borders is calling on wealthy nations to prepare now for the next epidemic.  In Florida, legislators have approved a bill directing state health officials to craft rules for imposing isolation or quarantine measures in the event of an infectious disease outbreak.  Florida Public Health Association Executive Director Sandra Magyar says it’s a good idea to give state-level officials that authority.

“The health departments at the local level, the county level, have had the ability to do some of this within a limited format,” Magyar says.  “But we’ve never had a bill establishing that the Department itself and the surgeon general has the authority to declare a public health emergency or threat.”

The bill also allows law enforcement agencies to enforce a quarantine order, and would make violations a second degree misdemeanor.  Gov. Rick Scott has until June 10 to act.

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.