Feds vs. states: Who decides on Ebola quarantines

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The White House says the Constitution prevents President Barack Obama from forcing all states to follow a single, national rule for isolating potential Ebola patients.

A hodgepodge of state policies is sowing confusion about what’s really needed to stop Ebola from spreading in the United States. While public health advocates denounce state quarantines as draconian and scientifically baseless, anxious citizens in non-quarantine states are asking whether they’re at greater risk because their governors and Obama have adopted a lesser level of caution.

The Constitution empowers the federal government to isolate sick people entering the U.S. or traveling between states. But the states have the bulk of the authority to regulate public health, including the decision to enforce quarantines within their borders.