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The New York assembly is considering a bill that would allow government officials such as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and health commissioners to “detain or remove” individuals that they deem a risk to public health.
The bill, first introduced by Democrat New York State Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, grants power to Cuomo and state health officials to forcibly confine any individual who is considered a danger due to a contagious disease or a suspected case of that disease to either a medical facility or another type of space appointed by the governor.
“The governor or his or her delegee may, in his or her discretion, issue and seek enforcement of any other orders that he or she determines are necessary or appropriate to prevent dissemination or transmission of contagious diseases or other illnesses that may pose a threat to the public health,” the bill states.
The proposed legislation does not name COVID-19 specifically. Instead, it claims that, in addition to being detained, individuals who are exposed or infected by a “communicable disease” resulting in “severe morbidity or high mortality” may also be subjected to tests, medical examinations, treatment, preventative medication, and vaccination by the state while being held.
Requirements for this legal detention include the production of “clear and convincing evidence” by the state as well as a court order if the custody prolongs 60 days. Judicial review is required if an individual is detained for more than 90 days.
Individuals may be released only after subjective scrutiny from health departments, which will determine “that the person is not infected with the disease or that such contact no longer presents a potential danger to the health of others.”
The bill is scheduled to be examined and reviewed next week by the state assembly’s health committee. If the proposed legislation makes it through both the state House, Senate, and the governor, it would be effective starting “on the thirtieth day after it shall have become a law.”