Law and Ethics Roundup: Supreme Court on Religious Services, Maine Federal Court on Regulating Out-of-State Visits, Structural Discrimination in Workplace Protection, Nursing Home Policy, More…

Two significant court cases were released last week.

Supreme Court says religious services may be restricted without violating First Amendment: I discuss the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision not to disturb California’s Executive Order restricting the size of live religious gatherings in a new piece at The Conversation, deferring to the state elected officials’ science-informed determination that limits were needed during this time of emergency. I also raise concerns about how the lack of having formal structures in place will make it more difficult to ensure that sound health practices are being followed:

The loosening of formal in-person gathering restrictions is beginning to take place across the country. This will likely make monitoring the rules more difficult and could result in greater reliance upon the vigilance of religious leaders, their congregants and perhaps guidance from the churches’ risk-averse liability insurance companies. For now, most churches and other religious entities appear to be remaining careful amid concern over the still present risksSome are not.

But should infection numbers spike in the near future, state officials have the knowledge that a majority on the Supreme Court – for now at least – appear willing to follow the science and support their good-faith efforts to manage public health emergencies.

Maine Can Say “Don’t Come From Away”: A Federal Judge in Maine declined to halt their state’s Executive Order stating that people will not be allowed all summer to enter the state unless they own or can rent property in the state where they can self-quarantine for 14 days. Maine has a year-round population of 1.3 million, but approximately 22 million people traveled to Main for vacation last summer. On the one hand, the court felt this decision did infringe upon peoples’ Constitutionally protected right to travel, especially the rights of visitors to the state. However, given current limits on testing and our limited knowledge of Covid-19 virus immunity, the judge felt the complaining parties did not do enough to show that there were any more feasible, less restrictive approaches the government could take under the circumstances and still meet the goals of protecting the public from many infectious people coming into the state and potentially overwhelming their local health system capacity.

Structural Discrimination in Covid-19 Workplace Protections: A must-read for policymakers who want to see where to focus legislative efforts to address the significant racial health disparities arising in the Covid-19 outbreak, this new article coauthored by IU McKinney School of Law Professor Seema Mohapatra discusses how the impacts of a lack of legal protections assuring safe workplace conditions falls disproportionately on women of color and low-wage workers.

How U.S. cities lost precious time to protect black residents from the coronavirus: “Today, Americans living in counties with above-average black populations are three times as likely to die of the coronavirus as those in above-average white counties.” Important investigative and analytical reporting from the Washington Post on the impact of structural racism on the roll out of Covid-19 testing sites and response efforts.

Long-Term Care Policy after Covid-19: Solving the Nursing Home Crisis: Nursing homes have been a hotbed of Covid-19 deaths. Due in part to a system that perpetually underfunds this important care setting, these facilities “had little cushion to respond to a national emergency. Now they are diverting resources to stop the [virus’] spread[.]” Long-term care must be saved in the near term, and looking forward, the way it is paid for and provided will need to be tranformed.

Health Equity, Social Policy, and Promoting Recovery from Covid-19: in this essay from University of Pennsylvania Political Science Professor Julia Lynch, she argues for “a suite of near-term and longer-term interventions, including universal health insurance and paid sick leave, upgraded wage insurance policies, tax reform, investments in parental leave, child care, and education, and upgraded government record systems. Policies that equalize the distribution of the social determinants of health and promote social solidarity will also improve population health and economic performance and allow us to confront future pandemics more successfully.”

CDC issues updated sets of guidance for safety in businesses, service providers, restaurants and bars, day camps, schools, childcare programs, other settings




Americans are delaying medical care, and it is devastating health care providers 

Treating Patients With Opioid Use Disorder in Their Homes: An Emerging Treatment Model


|2020-06-04T09:39:59-04:00June 4th, 2020|COVID-19 Literature|Comments Off on Law and Ethics Roundup: Supreme Court on Religious Services, Maine Federal Court on Regulating Out-of-State Visits, Structural Discrimination in Workplace Protection, Nursing Home Policy, More…

About the Author: Ross Silverman

Ross Silverman
Ross D. Silverman, JD, MPH, is Professor of Health Policy and Management at Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health and Professor of Public Health and Law at Indiana University McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. He is a member of the IU Centers on Health Policy and Bioethics. His research focuses on public health and medical law, policy, and ethics, and law's impact on health outcomes and vulnerable populations. He also serves as Associate Editor on Legal Epidemiology for Public Health Reports, the official journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service. His most recent Covid-19 publications include: "Ensuring Uptake of Vaccines Against SARS-CoV-2" in the New England Journal of Medicine (with MM Mello & SB Omer), and "Covid-19: control measures must be equitable and inclusive" in BMJ (with ZD Berger, NG Evans & AL Phelan)

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