Health Department Pushing To Update Laws On Serious Diseases

A state legislative committee has approved a bill that would modernize how the Department of Health responds to communicable disease outbreaks in the state.

Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health Tom Martinec says under the new proposal, anyone with a Category 1 disease who fails to or refuses to take medical action would be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Category 1 disease includes the most serious communicable diseases, like Ebola and SARS.

The House Health and Human Services approved the proposed changes 8 to 5 on Tuesday.

The changes would also give the health department a way to seek a judicial order quarantining any diseased person who fails or refuses to seek help.

Martinec says the department is pushing to update the laws following the Ebola scare last fall.

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