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October 02, 2014

Flashback: In August 2010, President Midas Touch Scrapped Tougher Bush-Era Quarantine Rules Designed to Halt Spread of Epidemics

Via Kerry Picket at Breitbart.

First, a little background on Bush's thinking in 2005 when he proposed the rules.

Bush Weighs Strategies to Counter Possible Outbreak of Bird Flu

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 - President Bush said today that he was working to prepare the United States for a possibly deadly outbreak of avian flu. He said he had weighed whether to quarantine parts of the country and also whether to employ the military for the difficult task of enforcing such a quarantine.

"I am concerned about what an avian flu outbreak could mean for the United States and the world," he said at a White House news conference.

The president emphasized that he was not predicting such an outbreak. "I'm just suggesting to you that we better be thinking about it," he told reporters, "and we are. And we're more than thinking about it, we're trying to put plans in place."

Since 2003, the avian flu has killed about 65 people in Southeast Asia who had been in contact with infected fowl. So far the virus has not mutated into a strain capable of transmission from one human to another.

If it does, scientists say that it could kill millions of people worldwide, reminiscent of the 1918-19 Spanish-flu pandemic, which claimed more lives than World War I. Because the virus is new, humans have little or no defense against it. It kills about half of those infected, and an outbreak could spread around the world in days.

Now watch this drive:

More than 30 Democratic senators, including Mr. Obama, sent Mr. Bush a letter today asking him to release the administration's final plan for dealing with a pandemic influenza. The group expressed its "grave concern that the nation is dangerously unprepared."

So Democrats and Obama were forward-leaning on outbreak control when Bush was president.

Gee I feel like I've seen this movie a few times before.

Flash forward to April 2010, after Obama became president, and reviewed the 2005 rules. He "quietly" dumped them.

The Obama administration has quietly scrapped plans to enact sweeping new federal quarantine regulations that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention touted four years ago as critical to protecting Americans from dangerous diseases spread by travelers.

The regulations, proposed in 2005 during the Bush administration amid fears of avian flu, would have given the federal government additional powers to detain sick airline passengers and those exposed to certain diseases. They also would have expanded requirements for airlines to report ill passengers to the CDC and mandated that airlines collect and maintain contact information for fliers in case they later needed to be traced as part of an investigation into an outbreak.

Airline and civil liberties groups, which had opposed the rules, praised their withdrawal.

Incidentally, Obama has a history of rebuffing calls to close borders in response to a public health threat:

Thus far, the Obama administration has gotten high marks from quarantine critics, particularly for rejecting suggestions that the U.S. close its border with Mexico during the initial swine flu outbreak. "The current administration quite rightfully resisted those calls," Jennifer Nuzzo of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biosecurity said.

Note: Despite the gotcha tone of this post (and I do think Senator Obama and President Obama should get together some time and share ideas), I don't have any details on what Obama's (and the other Democrats') particular criticisms were, nor if parts of their concerns were addressed by other rules, nor if anything was later passed to take the place of the "quietly scrapped" rules.

I don't know these things.

But it should be looked into, obviously.

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posted by Ace at 12:13 PM

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