State Has Power To Enforce Isolation Of Individuals Deemed A Threat To Public Health

Apr 8, 2020

Florida law allows the state Surgeon General to enforce the isolation or quarantine of individuals believed to pose a threat to public health.

Florida Statute 381.00315 states that the State Health Officer, Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees, has the power to order an individual to be “examined, tested, vaccinated, treated, isolated, or quarantined for communicable diseases that have significant morbidity or mortality and present a severe danger to public health.”

If an individual is unable or unwilling to be examined, tested, vaccinated, or treated due to health, religion, or other personal reasons, they may be asked to self-isolate or self-quarantine. If that person is deemed a danger to public health, “the State Health Officer may subject the individual to isolation or quarantine.”

If such an order is given, it is enforceable by a law enforcement officer.

If an individual violates such an isolation or quarantine order, it could be considered a second-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail or a fine of up to $500.

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

If someone is suspected of posing a danger to public health, they can be reported to the local Health Department. In Duval County, that can be done in one of two ways: via email, at CHD16_DCHD_Contact@flhealth.gov, or over the phone, at 904-253-1850.

Once received, the information is forwarded to the attention of the DOH’s attorney who will then investigate the situation.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.