FIVE FACTS ABOUT NEVADA QUARANTINE LAW
1) Doctors in Nevada have been required to report communicable disease of a patient pre-pandemic.
2) Authorities have had authority to enter a private residence to order a person suspected of having a communicable disease to submit to a test.
3 Authorities have had authority to issue an order requiring isolation of a person suspected of having a communicable disease.
4) Healthcare providers who do not report infectious disease to authorities are subject to criminal and civil penalties.
5) Health authorities cannot make you get treatment against your will.
It might be surprising to know that Nevada has had infectious disease statutes on the books for many years. NRS 441A.010 through NRS 441A.930 govern what powers authorities have to control infectious disease in our state. A reading of the statutes is somewhat shocking as they literally remove any and all civil rights that you have as an American. It is important to note that the statues have been on the books since at least 1989 and have been regularly modified and updated. The year 1989 was the year that the Ebola virus broke out. Ebola was a devastating disease, although not that wide spread in the United States. Prior to the infectious disease statutes, Nevada had statutes on the books governing public health and safety which also covered disease prevention dating back to the early 1900s.
A review of the current statutory scheme of NRS 441A relating to infectious disease is actually somewhat shocking to a legal professional. NRS 441A.920 actually prescribes criminal penalty and administrative fines for the failure of a healthcare facility to negligently or intentionally comply with any of these regulations. If fact, it subjects healthcare professionals to misdemeanor penalties as well as fines of $1000 for each violation. It also directs the district attorney of each county to prosecute these violations. The statute makes civil mistake a criminal act in the state of Nevada under NRS 441A.930. The basis of most criminal law is mental intent. These statutes impose criminal penalty without the intention of committing a criminal act.
In addition, the statutes also allow grave interference into personal privacy and human rights. NRS 441A.169 gives broad powers to the health authority and allows them to issue cease-and-desist orders to healthcare providers or medical facilities. The statute states that “during the course or as a result of an investigation concerning the case or suspected case of infectious disease… A health authority may… Take any other action to reduce or illuminate the harm to the health, safety or welfare of the public.” With this broad stroke of the pen, this statutory section allows for healthcare authorities to take any action they believe necessary against persons suspected of having infectious disease without due process, without the right to be heard, without any privileges afforded by our constitution for your own rights. In the mass of this pandemic which, has sadly affected approximately 2500 of our residents out of the 3,000,000 plus in the state, to trample the individual rights of every citizen in our state and even eliminate their livelihood. I don’t have intention to be political in this blog as many people have different opinions about the quarantine and the states’ rights. However, in a nation that prides itself on a system of democracy and due process, the Nevada scheme eliminated all of those rights when it comes to any communicable disease, regardless of whether it is a flu or Ebola. The statute makes no distinction. The statutes would allow authorities to take the same action regardless of the nature of the infection infectious or illness that is at issue. The link below will take you to the exact statutes. I have presented several below that are that quantify the overall statutory scheme: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-441A.html#NRS441ASec010
NRS 441A.150 Reporting occurrences of communicable diseases to health authority; reporting drug overdoses to Chief Medical Officer. [Effective January 1, 2020.]
1. A provider of health care who knows of, or provides services to, a person who has or is suspected of having a communicable disease shall report that fact to the health authority in the manner prescribed by the regulations of the Board. If no provider of health care is providing services, each person having knowledge that another person has a communicable disease shall report that fact to the health authority in the manner prescribed by the regulations of the Board.
2. A provider of health care who knows of, or provides services to, a person who has suffered or is suspected of having suffered a drug overdose shall report that fact and the information required by the Board pursuant to NRS 441A.120 to the Chief Medical Officer or his or her designee in the manner prescribed by the regulations of the Board. The Chief Medical Officer or his or her designee shall upload that information to the database of the program established pursuant to NRS 453.162 if the program allows for the upload of such information.
3. A medical facility in which more than one provider of health care may know of, or provide services to, a person who has or is suspected of having a communicable disease or who has suffered or is suspected of having suffered a drug overdose shall establish administrative procedures to ensure that the health authority or Chief Medical Officer or his or her designee, as applicable, is notified.
4. A laboratory director shall, in the manner prescribed by the Board, notify the health authority of the identification by his or her medical laboratory of the presence of any communicable disease in the jurisdiction of that health authority. The health authority shall not presume a diagnosis of a communicable disease on the basis of the notification received from the laboratory director.
5. If more than one medical laboratory is involved in testing a specimen, the laboratory that is responsible for reporting the results of the testing directly to the provider of health care for the patient shall also be responsible for reporting to the health authority.
NRS 441A.160 Investigation: Powers of health authority to conduct investigation of communicable disease; order to require person to submit to examination; order of isolation, quarantine or treatment.
1. A health authority who knows, suspects or is informed of the existence within the jurisdiction of the health authority of any communicable disease shall immediately investigate the matter and all circumstances connected with it, and shall take such measures for the prevention, suppression and control of the disease as are required by the regulations of the Board or a local board of health.
2. A health authority may:
(a) Enter private property at reasonable hours to investigate any case or suspected case of a communicable disease.
(b) Order any person whom the health authority reasonably suspects has a communicable disease in an infectious state to submit to any medical examination or test which the health authority believes is necessary to verify the presence of the disease. The order must be in writing and specify the name of the person to be examined and the time and place of the examination and testing, and may include such terms and conditions as the health authority believes are necessary to protect the public health.
(c) Except as otherwise provided in subsection 5 and NRS 441A.210, issue an order requiring the isolation, quarantine or treatment of any person or group of persons if the health authority believes that such action is necessary to protect the public health. The order must be in writing and specify the person or group of persons to be isolated or quarantined, the time during which the order is effective, the place of isolation or quarantine and other terms and conditions which the health authority believes are necessary to protect the public health, except that no isolation or quarantine may take place if the health authority determines that such action may endanger the life of a person who is isolated or quarantined.
3. Each order issued pursuant to this section must be served upon each person named in the order by delivering a copy to him or her.
4. If a health authority issues an order to isolate or quarantine a person with a communicable or infectious disease in a medical facility, the health authority must isolate or quarantine the person in the manner set forth in NRS 441A.510 to 441A.720, inclusive.
5. Except as otherwise provided in NRS 441A.310 and 441A.380, a health authority may not issue an order requiring the involuntary treatment of a person without a court order requiring the person to submit to treatment.
So to answer the broad question of what powers does the state have when it comes to infectious disease, the answer is all. They can come to your house and remove you from your residence. They can force you to take medical testing against your will to determine if you are carrying the disease and they can force you into isolation or quarantine at their own will. If this sounds extreme, it is. It is the wording of the statute. It is a difficult issue to reconcile. Weighing public safety against individual rights is a fundamental aspect of the law. However, this is an area where it appears that the power falls completely to the state. You do not have the right to seek an independent test under the statute. You do not have the right to determine whether you should be isolated under the statute. You do not have the right to refuse entry into your home under the statute.
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