Coronavirus national quarantine: NSC says texts are a ‘hoax’

The National Security Council issued a statement late Sunday saying texts suggesting that President Donald Trump will order a two-week period of national quarantine are a hoax.

The message the NSC responded to claims to be from a "friend in the military," and it advises people to stockpile two weeks' worth of supplies. The message goes on to urge the person who received it to forward the text onto other people.

“Text message rumors of a national #quarantine are FAKE,” the NCS tweeted. “There is no national lockdown. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has and will continue to post the latest guidance on (COVID-19).”

Trump on Friday declared a national state of emergency because of the spread of COVID-19.

A national state of emergency allows funds to more freely and quickly be moved to the places that need the most help, whether it be for supplies, reimbursement for funds spent by the state or other financial aid to states.

The CDC issued a recommendation this weekend that all large or mass gatherings events with 50 people or more in attendance should be canceled for the next eight weeks. The recommendation was aimed at helping to stop the spread of the virus.

"Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual," the CDC said in a statement.

"This recommendation does not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses. This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce the introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus."

Can the president order a quarantine for the nation? Yes, he can.

Under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the federal government is granted authority to issue orders for isolation and quarantine.

In addition, section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S. Code § 264), grants the secretary of Health and Human Services authorization to take measures to prevent the entry and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the United States and between states.

The authority for carrying out these functions on a daily basis has been delegated to the CDC.

Under the Public Health Service Act, federal authorities can quarantine anyone arriving in the U.S. by air, land or ship if they are suspected of being infected with one of several diseases. Those diseases are set by executive order.

The last time the U.S. government-mandated quarantines across the country was during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19.

Here, from the CDC, is a brief history of U.S. quarantine legislation. U.S. Quarantine Stations are located at 20 ports of entry and land-border crossings where international travelers arrive. They are staffed with quarantine medical and public health officers from CDC who determine whether ill persons can enter the United States and what measures should be taken to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

  • 1799 The first quarantine station and hospital in America was built in 1799 at the port of Philadelphia after a yellow fever outbreak in 1793.
  • 1878 The National Quarantine Act was passed in 1878, shifting quarantine powers from state to federal government.
  • 1944 The Public Health Service Act formed the federal government's quarantine authority in 1944.
  • 1967 CDC (National Communicable Disease Center) took over federal quarantine functions in 1967.
  • 1970s CDC reduced the number of quarantine stations from 55 to 8 because infectious diseases were thought to be a thing of the past.
  • 2004–2007 Number of quarantine stations increased to 20 because of concerns about bioterrorism after the World Trade Center attack in 2001 and worldwide spread of disease after the SARS outbreak in 2003.

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