COVID-19: U.S. Response and Public Health Laws

Dark room with books to the right and busts of men to the leftPublic Health Law Watch, an initiative of the George Consortium, has released an in-depth evaluation of public health law in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic titled Assessing Legal Responses to COVID-19 in which 50 top national experts offer their assessment of the U.S. policy response to the crisis.

The experts question why, when similar countries have been so successful and with all the tools necessary to succeed, the United States has failed to contain the novel coronavirus. They also consider whether or not the response of the American government has broken any public health laws.

Further, they ask:

  • Was the law (including both the law that existed prior to the pandemic and laws that took effect during the pandemic) a barrier or facilitator of the response in this topic area?
  • What appear to be the major legal, structural, and implementation factors in effectiveness or ineffectiveness of legal and policy developments?
  • Did the law or policy exacerbate racial, or socioeconomic or other pre-existing disparities?
  • Was the law applied in a manner consistent with ethical values and constitutional norms?

Each section concludes by uncovering whether or not any laws are being broken in regards to the access to information (or misinformation), health services, and/or employment issues for different sections of the population, and making recommendations at the federal, state, and local levels.


For more information, visit the HSDL Featured Topics or our In Focus topics on Pandemics and Epidemics. Additionally, you can find more information in our new In Focus: 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Please note that an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.

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