THE INTERSECTION OF EPIDEMIOLOGY AND LEGAL AUTHORITY: COVID-19 STAY AT HOME ORDERS.

Author: 

Katherine Drabiak

Federal and state government have the power and duty to protect the public from communicable disease. In the U.S., federal and state responses to the global pandemic of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 relied heavily on quarantine-like actions designed to slow the spread of SARS-CoV- 2. This article summarizes initial epidemiological data on SARS-CoV- 2/COVID-19, describes how the data correspond to federal and state authority for isolation and quarantine, and discusses the scope and limits of authority to control communicable disease through measures such as Stay at Home Orders. Stay at Home Orders raise four key Constitutional issues: (1) the right to pursue an economic livelihood and engage in legitimate business; (2) the right to lawful assembly; (3) the right to practice one’s religion; (4) the right to interstate and intrastate travel. Delving into the history of Constitutional jurisprudence, this article explains the scope of each interest, parameters of permissible regulation, and provides corresponding analysis as applied to Stay at Home Orders. Finally, this article outlines elements of strategic health policy planning for communicable disease. Read More.

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