While the global threat of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in 2014 was concentrated in several West African countries, its effects have been felt in many developed countries including the United States. Initial, select patients with EVD, largely among American health care workers (HCWs) volunteering in affected regions, were subsequently transported back to the states for isolation and treatment in high-level medical facilities. This included Emory University Hospital, which sits adjacent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.
The first domestic case of EVD occurred in late September in Dallas, Texas. Additional exposures of two HCWs generated an array of legal issues for state and local public health authorities, hospitals, and providers. Consideration of these issues led to extensive discussion among lawyers, public health practitioners, and other attendees at a late-breaking session on EVD and Legal Preparedness at the 2014 National Public Health Law conference. In this commentary, session presenters from CDC and Emory University share their expert perspectives on legal and policy issues underlying state and local powers to quarantine and isolate persons exposed to or infected with Ebola, as well as facets of hospital preparedness underlying the successful treatment of patients with EVD.