In 2010, the Obama administration withdrew updated quarantine regulations drafted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and proposed by the Bush administration. The new rules would have required air passengers to submit more information to airlines and strengthened the government’s authority to detain travelers suspected of carrying disease.
In proposing updated regulations, the CDC called them “critical to protecting Americans from dangerous diseases spread by travelers.” The CDC also said:
It’s important to public health to move forward with the regulations. We need to update our quarantine regulations, and this final rule is an important step.”
Thus, the wisdom of updating quarantine regulations was apparent years ago. Now that the Ebola virus has entered the U.S. via international travel, it may even be apparent to Team Obama.
The Bush era CDC regulations faced fierce resistance from the “civil liberties” lobby and the travel industry. However, the pretext for killing them was that more time was needed to come up with suitable rules. Espousing the party line, a CDC spokesperson said:
Upon further discussion and review across the government, it has become clear that further revision and reconsideration is necessary to update the regulations and make them more in line with ongoing government preparedness and public health planning and strategies.
Four years later, the quarantine rules have not been updated. Maybe now they will be.
Liberals like to say that President Bush and Republicans generally are “science deniers.” But in this instance, Bush followed the path recommended by the Centers for Disease Control — no science deniers, they. It was Obama who elevated ideology over science thereby (to borrow the CDC’s words) denying Americans “critical” protection against “dangerous diseases spread by travelers.”