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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 12. Health
Agency 5. Department of Health
Chapter 90. Regulations for Disease Reporting and Control
7/3/2022

12VAC5-90-103. Isolation for communicable disease of public health threat.

A. Application. The commissioner, in his sole discretion, may invoke the provisions of Article 3.02 (§ 32.1-48.05 et seq.) of Chapter 2 of Title 32.1 of the Code of Virginia and may declare the isolation of any individual or individuals upon a determination that:

1. Such individual or individuals are known to have been infected with or are reasonably suspected to have been infected with a communicable disease of public health threat;

2. Exceptional circumstances render the procedures of Article 3.01 (§ 32.1-48.01 et seq.) of Chapter 2 of Title 32.1 of the Code of Virginia to be insufficient, or the individual or individuals have failed or refused to comply voluntarily with the control measures directed by the commissioner in response to a communicable disease of public health threat; and

3. Isolation is the necessary means to contain a communicable disease of public health threat, to ensure that such isolated individual or individuals receive appropriate medical treatment subject to the provisions of § 32.1-44 of the Code of Virginia, or to protect health care providers and others who may come into contact with such infected individual or individuals.

The commissioner, in his sole discretion, may also order the isolation of an affected area if, in addition to the above, the Governor has declared a state of emergency for such affected area of the Commonwealth.

B. Documentation. For isolation for a communicable disease of public health threat, information about the infection or suspected infection, the individual, individuals, and/or affected area, and the nature or suspected nature of the exposure shall be duly recorded by the local health department in consultation with the Office of Epidemiology. This information shall be sufficient to enable documenting a record of findings and to enable the commissioner to prepare the order of isolation, including the information required in § 32.1-48.12 of the Code of Virginia. In addition, sufficient information on individuals shall be maintained by the local health department to enable appropriate follow-up of individuals for health status evaluation and treatment as well as compliance with the order of isolation.

The commissioner shall ensure that the protected health information of any individual or individuals subject to the order of isolation is disclosed only in compliance with state and federal law.

C. Means of isolation. The local health department shall assess the situation, and in consultation with the Office of Epidemiology, identify the least restrictive means of isolation that effectively protects unexposed and susceptible individuals. The place of isolation selected shall allow the most freedom of movement and communication with family members and other contacts without allowing disease transmission to other individuals and shall allow the appropriate level of medical care needed by isolated individuals to the extent practicable. The commissioner, in his sole discretion, may order the isolated individual or individuals to remain in their residences, to remain in another place where they are present, or to report to a place or places designated by the commissioner for the duration of their isolation.

The commissioner's order of isolation shall be for a duration consistent with the known period of communicability of the communicable disease of public health threat or, if the course of the disease is unknown or uncertain, for a period anticipated as being consistent with the period of communicability of other similar infectious agents. In the situation where an area is under isolation, the duration of isolation shall take into account the transmission characteristics and known or suspected period of communicability.

D. Delivery. The local health department shall deliver the order of isolation, or ensure its delivery by an appropriate party such as a law-enforcement officer or health department employee, to the affected individual or individuals in person to the extent practicable. If, in the opinion of the commissioner, the scope of the notification would exceed the capacity of the local health department to ensure individual notification in a timely manner, then print, radio, television, Internet, and/or other available means shall be used to inform those affected.

E. Enforcement. Upon finding that there is probable cause to believe that any individual or individuals who are subject to an order of isolation may fail or refuse to comply with such order, the commissioner in his sole discretion may include in the order a requirement that such individual or individuals are to be taken immediately into custody by law-enforcement agencies and detained for the duration of the order of isolation or until the commissioner determines that the risk of noncompliance is no longer present. For any individual or individuals identified as, or for whom probable cause exists that he may be, in violation of any order of isolation, or for whom probable cause exists that he may fail or refuse to comply with any such order, the enforcement authority directed by the commissioner to law-enforcement agencies shall include but need not be limited to the power to detain or arrest.

Any individual or individuals so detained shall be held in the least restrictive environment that can provide any required health care or other services for such individual. The commissioner shall ensure that law-enforcement personnel responsible for enforcing an order or orders of isolation are informed of appropriate measures to take to protect themselves from contracting the disease of public health threat.

F. Health status monitoring. The local health department shall monitor the health of those under isolation either by regular telephone calls, visits, self-reports, or by reports of caregivers or healthcare providers or by other means.

G. Essential needs. Upon issuance of an order of isolation to an individual or individuals by the commissioner, the local health department shall manage the isolation, in conjunction with local emergency management resources, such that individual essential needs can be met to the extent practicable. Upon issuance of an order of isolation by the commissioner for an affected area, existing emergency protocols pursuant to Chapter 3.2 (§ 44-146.13 et seq.) of Title 44 of the Code of Virginia shall be utilized for mobilizing appropriate resources to ensure essential needs are met.

H. Appeals. Any individual or individuals subject to an order of isolation or a court-ordered confirmation or extension of any such order may file an appeal of the order of isolation in accordance with the provisions of § 32.1-48.13 of the Code of Virginia. An appeal shall not stay any order of isolation.

I. Release from isolation. Once the commissioner determines that an individual or individuals no longer pose a threat to the public health, the order of isolation has expired, or the order of isolation has been vacated by the court, the individual or individuals under the order of isolation shall be released immediately. If the risk of an infected individual transmitting the communicable disease of public health threat to other individuals continues to exist, an order of isolation may be developed to extend the restriction prior to release from isolation.

J. Affected area. If the criteria in subsection A of this section are met and an area is known or suspected to have been affected, then the commissioner shall notify the Governor of the situation and the need to order isolation for the affected area during the known or suspected time of exposure. In order for an affected area to be isolated, the Governor must declare a state of emergency for the affected area.

If an order of isolation is issued for an affected area during the known or suspected time of exposure, the commissioner shall cause the order of isolation to be communicated to the individuals residing or located in the affected area. The use of multiple forms of communication, including but not limited to radio, television, internet, and/or other available means, may be required in order to reach the individuals who were in the affected area during the known or suspected time of exposure.

The provisions for documentation, means of isolation, enforcement, health status monitoring, essential needs, and release from isolation described above will apply to the isolation of affected areas. Appropriate management of a disease of public health threat for an affected area may require the coordinated use of local, regional, state, and national resources. In specifying one or more affected areas to be placed under isolation, the objective will be to protect as many people as possible using the least restrictive means. As a result, defining the precise boundaries and time frame of the exposure may not be possible, or may change as additional information becomes available. When this occurs, the commissioner shall ensure that the description of the affected area is in congruence with the Governor's declaration of emergency and shall ensure that the latest information is communicated to those in or exposed to the affected area.

Statutory Authority

§ 32.1-35 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 23, Issue 15, eff. May 2, 2007; amended, Virginia Register Volume 27, Issue 13, eff. March 28, 2011.

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