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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Disappearing Public Toilets, Public Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Neighborhood and Built Environment

May 6, 2020

Frequent hand washing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19, yet not everyone has easy access to running water. Lack of toilet facilities contributes to a variety of illnesses and can trigger outbreaks of contagious diseases, like Hepatitis A. Along with the homeless, others, including taxi drivers, utility workers, gas and electric service workers, people doing street repair, and people with certain medical conditions can encounter difficulty accessing toilet facilities. Today, access to public toilet facilities is even more restricted in states that have mandated closure of nearly all businesses. However, there are a variety of ways that cities can increase access to clean and safe public toilets.

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Matching Supply and Demand: Connecting Farms with Food Banks for Hunger Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Law & Policy InsightsFood and Housing Insecurity MeasuresFood Safety and SecurityFood Security

May 5, 2020
by Mathew R. Swinburne

The devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in over 26 million Americans filing unemployment claims. This rising level of unemployment will push America further into a food security crisis. The USDA’s most recent food security report, published in September of 2019, indicated that 37.2 million Americans were food insecure. Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic will force an additional 17.1 million Americans into food insecurity.

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