Federal health officials may be about to get greatly enhanced powers to quarantine people, as part of an ongoing effort to stop outbreaks of dangerous contagious diseases.
The new powers are outlined in a set of regulations the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published late last month to update the agency’s quarantine authority for the first time since the 1940s.
The outlined changes are being welcomed by many health lawyers, bioethicists and public health specialists as providing important tools for protecting the public. But the CDC’s increased authority is also raising fears that the rules could be misused in ways that violate civil liberties.
The update was finalized at the end of the Obama administration and was scheduled to go into effect Feb. 21. But the Trump administration is reviewing the changes as part of its review of new regulations. So the soonest the changes could go into effect has been pushed to the end of March.