Federal health authorities could exercise authoritarian powers to control an Ebola outbreak if the deadly disease hits the United States under the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, legislation passed in the wake of 9/11 which attracted controversy at the time for its draconian scope.
With the Ebola outbreak in West Africa having been declared the worst in history by the World Health Organization, concerns are mounting that the disease could spread via international air travel. Asked whether the virus could arrive in the United States, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said, "It's going to happen at some point."
The Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, drafted during the 2001 anthrax attacks, has since been adopted in whole or in part by 33 states. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons warned that the legislation "could turn governors into dictators," while constitutional lawyer Phyllis Schlafly labeled it "an unprecedented assault on the constitutional rights of the American people."