Meeting the Unprecedented Law and Policy Challenges of COVID-19

Impact StoriesCOVID-19

June 30, 2020

Public health agencies, health care workers, emergency managers, and policymakers are grappling with core legal preparedness and response efforts to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Communities are reeling from COVID-19 on so many levels—from needing to increase or reallocate health care resources, to protecting the safety of front line and essential workers, to addressing the health and economic structural inequities the pandemic has laid bare. Never has there been such an urgent need for government, business, health care and other sectors to ensure their laws and policies protect the health of our communities.

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COVID-19 and the Election: In a Public Health Emergency, We Need to Be Guided by Experts

Network NewsCOVID-19 and Health EquityCivic Engagement and Voting

June 26, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has helped exacerbate existing barriers to voting and election participation, making it more difficult for people across the country to exercise their right to vote. As the nation races to contain the spread of COVID-19, we must protect our voting systems and ensure that everyone can safely and securely vote throughout the remaining 2020 election cycle.

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Policing as a Social Determinant of Health: Addressing the Public Health Crisis of Systemic Racism

Law & Policy InsightsRacism as a Public Health Crisis

June 18, 2020

Although racism in the context of policing is often seen as a criminal justice issue, the reality is that racism and policing disparately affect health outcomes, and ultimately all aspects of life, for Black individuals and people of color. Racism and police violence are public health crises. We can begin to solve this crisis by prioritizing policing and systemic racism as critical social determinants of health. Doing so will truly begin to address the underlying needs of vulnerable communities.

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We Need to Address Structural Racism as a Public Health Crisis

Network NewsCOVID-19 and Health Equity

June 4, 2020

We’re seeing it first-hand in our communities and in decades of evidence: racist practices perpetuated and sanctioned by laws and policies are at the root of the suffering endured by so many people of color, especially Black people, in America. In the midst of a pandemic that is disproportionately affecting the Black community, the brutal killing of George Floyd is yet another example of how structural racism enables egregious harm.

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Workplace Disparities: Gaps in COVID-19 Protections for Grocery Workers

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Economic Stability

June 4, 2020

Outside of health care providers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery store workers are among the most at-risk essential employees. Protections for grocery workers are particularly important due to the characteristics of the workforce, a significant number of which are people of color and those with disabilities, along with older adults. Despite having a legal requirement to protect employees in the workplace under federal law, and the added efforts many employers have taken, there are still significant gaps in protections.

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Reopening America: Protecting Employees as They Return to Work During COVID-19

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Social Distancing Measures

May 29, 2020
by Sarah Wetter

Across America, governments are allowing businesses to reopen as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Employees may be eager to return to their jobs and income, but could be at heightened risk of COVID-19 transmission. The "return to work" push is emerging with employees bringing various legal claims. Meanwhile, legislation is arising that could immunize companies complying with state-level or CDC reopening guidance. Yet adhering to guidance is not a foolproof guard against COVID-19, especially as the White House refused to implement CDC’s specific guidelines for reopening businesses such as restaurants, child care centers, churches, and schools. This blog examines legal claims available to employees returning to work and how new legislation could impact public health.

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Drug Enforcement Administration Waives Some Barriers to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Harm Reduction Legal ProjectSubstance Use Prevention and Harm ReductionHealth and Health Care

May 20, 2020
by Corey Davis

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has temporarily waived or clarified several regulations that may act as barriers to providing life-saving medications to those undergoing treatment for opioid use disorder during the COVID-19 Pandemic. These changes have the potential to dramatically increase access to these medication and the DEA should strongly consider extending many of these changes for the duration of the opioid public health emergency, which will remain even after the threat from COVID-19 subsides.

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