By now you've undoubtedly heard of the guy from Rutland who has recently returned from West Africa and promptly landed in what is being called voluntary quarantine. You know, just so Vermont doesn't miss out on the Ebola panic.
“I want to emphasize this is a voluntary arrangement, and that this individual does not have an elevated temperature, has no signs or symptoms of illness and is not a health risk to anyone at this time,” the governor said..
If you're like me, the story might have set you wondering about a fundamental question: who are they to tell me that I have to go into “voluntary” quarantine? What if I say no?
VPR reports that the administration has an answer to that:
It turns out that Vermont statutes make provision for just such an eventuality. 18 V.S.A. § 1004a says that “The commissioner of health shall have the power to quarantine a person diagnosed or suspected of having a disease dangerous to the public health.”
Given that every public statement the government has made emphasizes that this person has had no symptoms, and there is no reason to think he has been infected, one wonders what a court would do if faced with a habeas challenge to his detention.