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New York State Department of Health Publishes Emergency Rule to Clarify Authority to Prevent Spread of Communicable Disease

On June 24, 2020 the New York State Department of Health (DOH) published formal notice of its June 5th emergency rule “necessary to clarify and strengthen the Department’s authority and that of the local health departments to take specific actions to control the spread of disease, including actions related to investigation and response to a disease outbreak, as well as the issuance of isolation and quarantine orders.” Though the emergency regulations are issued in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, DOH indicates it intends to adopt the emergency rule as a permanent rule and will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the State Register at some future date.

The emergency rule amends Title 10 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations in parts 2, 58, and 405. The emergency changes are effective as of June 5th until September 2nd. Below are some highlights of the changes made by the emergency rule.

Amendments to 10 NYCRR part 2 include:

  • Amending existing definitions and adding new defined terms such as “quarantine,” “contact,” and “isolation.”

  • Clarifying local health department authority to investigate a case, suspect case, outbreak, or unusual disease, and requires individuals and entities subject to a public health investigation to cooperate with the DOH and local health department.

  • Adding new language to make clear that the DOH has the authority to issue isolation and quarantine orders, as do local departments of health, and the process for such orders and penalties for any violation.

  • Relocating and updating existing regulations that require the attending physician to report cases and suspected cases to the local health authority, and require physicians to provide instructions concerning how to protect others.

Amendments to 10 NYCRR 58 include:

  • Requiring DOH to designate communicable diseases that require prompt action, and to make available a list of such diseases on the DOH website.

  • Requiring clinical laboratories to immediately report positive test results for communicable diseases identified as requiring prompt attention.

  • Requiring clinical laboratories to report all test results, including negative and indeterminate results, for communicable diseases identified as requiring prompt attention.

Amendments to 10 NYCRR 405 include:

  • Mandating hospitals to report syndromic surveillance data during an outbreak of a highly contagious communicable disease.

  • Permitting DOH to direct hospitals to take patients during an outbreak of a highly contagious communicable disease.

This post was co-authored by Michael Lisitano, legal intern at Robinson+Cole. Michael is not yet admitted to practice law.

Copyright © 2020 Robinson & Cole LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 183

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About this Author

Anna Gurevich Healthcare Attorney Robinson Cole Law Firm
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Anna Gurevich advises hospitals, physician groups, community providers, and other health care entities on a variety of health law and general business issues. She is a member of the firm's Health Law Group. Her practice focuses on counseling health care providers in complex business arrangements and regulatory issues. Prior to joining Robinson+Cole, Anna worked at a health care law firm and a large academic medical center. 

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