Links to Additional Public Health Authority Resources
In 2020 and 2021, dissatisfaction and anger at perceived overreaches by governors, mayors, and public health officials in response to the COVID-19 pandemic led to an onslaught of legislative proposals to eliminate, limit, or re-assign the emergency powers and public health authority used by these officials to protect the public from serious illness, injury, and death. While precise counts depend upon the criteria for inclusion, Kaiser Health News and AP reported that by fall of 2021, virtually every state had considered at least one bill to limit public health authority, and about half of states had enacted one or more of these bills. Public health officials are also being harassed and threatened personally. Kaiser Health News and AP reported that by September, 2021, over 300 public health officials had resigned, retired, or been fired during the pandemic. This resource list gathers factual and legal analysis to assist public health officials, advocates, and policymakers in responding to the complex issues involved. It is not a comprehensive list, and we invite you to contact the Network to share additional helpful resources.
- Lauren Weber and Anna Maria Barry-Jester, More than Half of States Have Rolled Back Public Health Powers in Pandemic, Kaiser Health News and AP (September 15, 2021).. Accessed September 28, 2021 at https://khn.org/news/article/over-half-of-states-have-rolled-back-public-health-powers-in-pandemic/.
- Local Solutions Support Center, 2021: A Session Like No Other. Accessed on October 4, 2021, at https://www.supportdemocracy.org/the-latest/a-session-like-no-other-an-overview-of-2021s-unprecedented-wave-of-state-preemption-bills.
Legal Analyses of Threats to Public Health Authority
- Network for Public Health Law and National Association of County and City Health Officials, Proposed Limits on Public Health Authority: Dangerous for Public Health, (May 2021). Accessed September 20, 2021 at https://www.networkforphl.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Proposed-Limits-on-Public-Health-Authority-Dangerous-for-Public-Health-FINAL.pdf.
- Gregory Sunshine, et al., An Assessment of State Laws Providing Gubernatorial Authority to Remove Legal Barriers to Emergency Response, Health Secur. (2019). Accessed on October 4, 2021 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6476686/pdf/nihms-1022447.pdf.
- Hodge, James G. and Piatt, Jennifer and Barraza, Leila, Legal Interventions to Counter COVID-19 Denialism (August 25, 2021). Hodge JG, Piatt JL, Barraza L, Legal interventions to counter COVID-19 denialism, Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (Forthcoming), Accessed September 28, 2021 at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3911198 .
- Lindsay F. Wiley, Public Health Emergency Reform is Coming—These Six Principles Should Guide It, Health Affairs blog, January 12, 2021. Accessed September 28, 2021 at https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20210105.516753/full/ .
- Lindsay F. Wiley, Democratizing the Law of Social Distancing, Yale Journal of Health Law, Policy, and Ethics (2020). Accessed on September 28, 2021 at https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjhple/vol19/iss3/2/.
- Michael R. Fraser et al., Variation Among Public Health Interventions in Initial Efforts to Prevent and Control the Spread of COVID-19 in the 50 States, 29 Big Cities, and the District of Columbia, Journal of Public Health Management and Practice (Jan./Feb. 2021). Accessed October 4, 2021 at https://debeaumont.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Variation-Among-Public-Health-Interventions-in-Initial-Efforts-to-Prevent-and-Control-the-Spread-of-COVID-19-in-the-50-States-29-Big-Cities-and-the-District-of-Columbia.pdf.
- Michelle Mello and Wendy Parmet, Public Health Law After COVID-19, New England Journal of Medicine, (Sept. 2021). Accessed on October 4, 2021 at https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2112193 .
- Network for Public Health Law, Strengthening Public Health Authority to Contain and Prevent Communicable Disease, (June, 2021). Accessed September 28, 2021 at https://www.networkforphl.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/2021-Strengthening-Public-Health-Authority-to-Contain-and-Prevent-Communicable-Disease.pdf.
- Scott Burris et al., The “Legal Epidemiology” of Pandemic Control, New England Journal of Medicine, (May 2021). Accessed on October 4, 2021 at https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2103380.
- Burris, S., de Guia, S., Gable, L., Levin, D.E., Parmet, W.E., Terry, N.P. (Eds.) (2021). COVID-19 Policy Playbook: Legal Recommendations for a Safer, More Equitable Future. Boston: Public Health Law Watch.
- U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis at https://coronavirus.house.gov/ . In particular, a hearing on September 29, 2021 entitled, “Upgrading Public Health Infrastructure: The Need To Protect, Rebuild, And Strengthen State And Local Public Health Departments” addressed many of these issues. A video of the hearing is available at https://coronavirus.house.gov/subcommittee-activity/hearings/hybrid-hearing-upgrading-public-health-infrastructure-need-protect.
- Office of Idaho Governor Brad Little, All Four Living Former Idaho Governors support Gov. Little’s veto of emergency powers bills, (April 16, 2021). Accessed September 28, 2021 at https://gov.idaho.gov/pressrelease/all-four-living-former-idaho-governors-support-gov-littles-veto-of-emergency-powers-bills/.
- Office of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Veto Message: Statement of the Reasons for the Veto of Substitute Senate Bill 22 (March 23, 2021). Accessed on September 28, 2021 at https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/OHOOD/2021/03/23/file_attachments/1732100/SB%2022%20Veto%20Message.pdf.
- Ohio Legislative Service Commission, SB 22 Bill Analysis (March 10, 2021). Accessed September 28, 2021 at https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/download?key=15961&format=pdf.
- Poll Results: Montanans Support Support Local Health Officers, Daily Montanan (April 6, 2021), https://dailymontanan.com/2021/04/06/poll-results-montanans-support-local-health-officers/.
Protections for Public Health Officials
- The Network for Public Health Law. 50-State Survey: Legal Protections for Public Health Officials. Accessed September 12 2021 at: https://www.networkforphl.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/50-State-Survey-Legal-Protections-for-Public-Health-Officials.pdf.
Public Health Infrastructure
- Bipartisan Policy Center, Positioning America’s Public Health System for the Next Pandemic (June, 2021). Accessed September 28, 2021 at https://bipartisanpolicy.org/report/preparing-for-the-next-pandemic/.
- National Network of Public Health Institutes, Challenges and Opportunities for Strengthening the US Public Health Infrastructure ((May, 2021). Accessed September 28, 2021 at https://nnphi.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/NNPHI-E2A-Kresge-Report-Web.pdf.
- Trust for America’s Health, The Impact of Chronic Underfunding upon America’s Public Health System: Trends, Risks and Recommendations, 2021 (May, 2021). Accessed September 28, 2021 at https://www.tfah.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/2021_PHFunding_Fnl.pdf.