Public Health Crisis

Written by Kenneth D. Nunn

   Martial Law is not the only way the authorities can and will take control of the citizens. A public health crisis is another way and, in many ways, an easier method to implement. As you will see your local officials can declare a public health crisis. What is more important is what can be classed as a public health crisis.

  “In today's world, we face many natural and man-made catastrophic threats, including the very real possibility of a global influenza outbreak or other public health emergency that could infect millions of people. While it is impossible to predict the timing or severity of the next public health emergency, our government has a responsibility to anticipate and prepare for such events.

   That statement is from Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman as stated in the foreword of the “New York State Public Health Legal Manual” which was copyrighted in 2011. As far as I can determine it remains the official manual. This is an 88-page manual that lays out the powers authorities have in the event of what they say would be a public health crisis. In studying the manual, you find that a public health crisis can be construed to mean most any event.

New York Public Health Legal Manual

A Guide For Judges, Attorneys, and Public Health Professionals

For The Complete Manual

Click Here

Judge Lippman went on to state:

  “An important element of this planning process is advance coordination between public health authorities and our judicial and legal systems. The major actors in any public health crisis must understand the governing laws ahead of time, and must know what their respective legal roles and responsibilities are. What is the scope of the government's emergency and police powers? When may these be invoked, and by which officials? What are the rights of people who may be quarantined or isolated by government and public health officials?”

   Although, this is a health manual for the state of New York, you can be assured the Federal government as well as the other states either have the same or similar rules in place. I have included a link to the entire manual. I ask you to link to it and read the entire manual. It is only 82 pages, and states a lot of laws that already a part of the federal and local laws.. I am sure, like myself you will be surprised, and probably shocked to learn of the power the authorities have in a public health emergency. The scary aspect of this manual is that there are no guidelines as to what constitutes a public health crisis. Seems to me as if the authorities could declare a public health crisis for most anything.

There a few points that immediately stand out:

Curfew – In the event of a public health crisis the authorities will have the power to establish and enforce a curfew, there by having the authority to shut down businesses,and/or bar people from congregating in public places.

This is just simply the authority to control the citizens.

Control Traffic –In the event of a public health crisis the authorities will have the power to control traffic. This would not only include vehicle traffic but also pedestrian traffic. Think of the power being able to control pedestrian traffic would give the authorities, especially in a place such as New York City.

   In other words, you could very well find yourself and your family trapped in a situation where you will become exposed to a contagious disease or some other dangers. You would not have the ability to evacuate.

Commandeer citizens property – commandeer :

1. Officially take possession or control of (something), esp. for military purposes.

2. Take possession of (something) without authority.

I.70 – Eminent domain comes into play only when the purpose of the government's action is to obtain actual ownership of the property. The culmination of the eminent domain process is a judicial vesting proceeding brought by the government in which the court may award title of the property to the government, followed by judicial determination of just compensation. While there are provisions in the for the government to seize the property for public use in an emergency situation before the transfer of ownership is completed, the ultimate objective of the eminent domain proceeding is the obtaining of ownership by the government. The addressing of public health emergencies rarely involves that objective.

   This is just another way in which the government can take what ever they want. This would not only include your home and vehicle but also could include you store of food, water or whatever you may have in your home storage.

Quarantine : If you are exposed, or potentially exposed, to a contagious disease, then you could easily find yourself and your family quarantined. This could well be in your home or in a large isolated area. Maybe even an entire city.

   To me this means that you could conceivably find yourself quarantined with a group of folks that have been exposed to a contagious disease. You would simply not have the ability to evacuate.

The authority to chose who is treated : In serious health emergencies, this most likely would involve a triage system that balances the obligation to save the greatest number of lives against the obligation to care for each single patient.

   One point I think is very important to realize is the fact that any disaster or catastrophic event, could be declared a Public Health Crisis. It would not have to be a pandemic. It could be something as simple as a garbage strike or maybe a power grid failure. On the the other hand, a terrorist attack or a natural disaster would certainly be a Public Health crisis. For that matter riots, or anarchy could also be declared a public health crisis. As you can see this leaves the door wide open for interpretation of the laws as to what constitutes a public health crisis.

   The importance of this Public Health Manual, as I see it, is that it serves to emphasize several points I make in “Out Of Harm's Way”. First of all it reiterates the importance of not only having an evacuation point also in early evacuation. The last thing you would want is to be trapped an unable to evacuate. For instance, what the authorities, for whatever reason, decided to quarantine your entire block or even your entire city. You would potentially be trapped with people that may even have a Communicable Disease. You would also be trapped if anarchy were to break out.

   Now suppose you have home storage, now you will not only have to worry about gangs taking your supplies, your neighbors wanting your supplies, now you have the real danger of the authorizes commandeering your supplies, to maybe share with everyone else.

   On the one hand I can certainly understand the necessity of the authorities having the laws and power to control the public in a public health crisis. However, on the other hand I can certainly see the dangers inherent in these type laws. Our public officials have proven time and again that if they are given an inch they will most certainly take a foot. The authorities have, time and time again proven that they can not handle an emergency, the more devastating the emergency the more they tend to screw it up.

Copyright © 2018 Kenneth D. Nunn

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