9/11-era law gives governor extensive authority in virus outbreak

An Arizona college student was diagnosed as fifth U.S. coronavirus case

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times

Wondering what Gov. Doug Ducey could do if coronavirus should begin to spread in Arizona?

Turns out, quite a lot, courtesy of some post 9/11 fears.

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A state law passed in the months following the 2001 terrorist attack allows the state’s chief executive officer to order medical examinations and even isolate and quarantine people — all without court approval — if he decides to declare an emergency due to the any sort of virus outbreak.

And he even could use police and the National Guard to enforce his orders.

The law was a direct response to the Sept. 11 attacks. It was designed to provide a comprehensive plan of what happens in case of a biological terrorist attack, beefing up existing law that give the governor powers in emergencies.

The wording, however, is much broader. It includes any illness, health condition or syndrome caused not only by bioterrorism but also any “epidemic or pandemic disease.”

It starts with an enhanced surveillance advisory.


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February 2020