Mass. lawmakers debate bill allowing quarantines
BOSTON -- The Massachusetts House is debating a bill that would give public health officials the power to isolate individuals and set up quarantines to contain the outbreak of serious contagious diseases.
The quarantine order could come in writing or verbally. Those forced into quarantine could appeal to the Superior Court.
Supporters say the emergence of swine flu shows the importance of having laws on the books to deal with public health crises. Critics say the bill gives the government too much power.
The bill would also give the public health commissioner the power to evacuate public buildings, close access to contaminated areas, and purchase and distribute serums, vaccines or antibiotics.
The Senate approved an earlier version of the bill in April.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)