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Assembly bill causes a stir over the weekend

Legislation that stands little chance of ever reaching Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk caused quite a stir over the weekend.

A.416 has been sponsored by Assemblyman Nick Perry, D-Brooklyn, since 2015 when an Ebola outbreak in Africa brought an Ebola case to New York City. The physician was part of the Doctors Without Borders program, was treated and recovered. No one who contracted Ebola while in the United States died from it and no new cases were diagnosed in the United States after the New York City case was released from Bellevue Hospital.

Perry’s legislation has lived longer than the Ebola outbreak.

Every year, the legislation turns up in the list of bills reintroduced in the state Assembly. The bill hasn’t had a cosponsor in five years, nor has companion legislation been introduced in the state Senate.

Perry’s proposal would give the executive branch the authority to detain infected individuals and their contacts in a medical facility. The legislation, reintroduced this week with the opening of the 2020-21 state legislative session, would allow the governor to issue an order to place people in a medical facility or other appropriate facility for three days. Detentions longer than three days would require a court order.

Perry told Politico the some people are trying to create a crisis “so they can rev up a certain group of individuals. They find anything that will feed some fire, and they may find this may be just up their alley. But that was never my intent when I introduced it.”

The legislation typically comes and goes without much mention, but the legislation has also never been introduced during a pandemic. A.416’s reintroduction has brought Republicans out in full force against the bill, including state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay. Borrello said his office has been contacted by several people once Perry’s bill began making the rounds on social media and on conservative media outlets.

The legislative justification for Perry’s legislation doesn’t state that the legislation is tied to the 2015 ebola outbreak, which has helped feed the outcry against the bill. Perry told Politico he stopped pushing for the legislation after an Ebola vaccine was approved in 2019.

In addition to Perry’s bill, Borrello said he is opposed to A.11179, a bill that was introduced in November to amend Article 21 of the state Public Health Law to require COVID-19 vaccines for all individuals who are clinically determined to be safe to receive such vaccine if the state COVID-19 Vaccination Administration Program fails to achieve sufficient immunity.

“I am opposed to these bills as both are unconstitutional. But, in my opinion, just introducing these bills creates a negative impact that ultimately harms the effort to get our state past the pandemic, safely,” Borrello said. “Getting us on a path to having the most people protected from COVID-19 should be done by educating the public and building confidence in the safety of the vaccine. Trying to force it by creating a law, or with the governor’s emergency authority, only serves to undermine that process. Compelling the vaccine unnecessarily creates resistance and controversy. Many will choose not to have the vaccine only because they are being forced to do so. Many others may question its safety if it is required and not voluntary. It will also lead to more general resistance to the common-sense safety measures that are still important as we navigate our way out of this crisis.”

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