Law & Ethics Roundup – Stay-at-home order authority, Telehealth policy, Health disparities & vulnerable populations, Weighing pandemic risks

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Law & Ethics Roundup – Stay-at-home order authority, Telehealth policy, Health disparities & vulnerable populations, Weighing pandemic risks

  1. Legal Authority of State Stay-at-Home Orders – Hall, Mello, Studdert – this New England Journal of Medicine article discusses two recent state Supreme Court cases (one from Wisconsin and one from Michigan) as a way to examine how legal challenges are being mounted questioning the broad authority states have to impose stay-at-home requirements in the face of a public health emergency.  
  2. Michigan Supreme Court sides with barber in case ordering closure during pandemic – This case is extremely procedurally complicated. In short, there are questions about the authority the Governor used to extend emergency powers beyond the initial 28 days of the pandemic, which then raises questions as to whether the state has any authority to stop the behavior of a Michigan barber who opened up his barber shop on May 4, in “defiance” of the order. A trial court judge sided with the barber in a case the state brought attempting to put an injunction in place while all the finer legal points were being hashed out. The state appealed the case, and a majority of the Court of Appeals sided with the state, which would put the temporary injunction in place. The state Supreme Court found that the Court of Appeals made a number of procedural errors in approving the order, and therefore sided with the barber and allowing the barber shop to stay open. There are a lot of interesting questions to be hashed out in this case, including the right of the governor to extend emergencies beyond 28 days without going to the legislature for approval (which is what one of the state’s emergency laws requires), and the right of the state to regulate risks of infection in places such as hair salons versus the claim by the barber that opening up his barbershop in defiance of the state rule was protected speech (in essence, a protest) under the Constitution.. However, this particular decision really doesn’t get at any of those questions.
  3. Telehealth pay gap looms after state virus orders expire – while many patients and health care providers have adjusted to a new way of health care delivery during the Covid-19 epidemic, these expanded forms of access will require state legislatures and regulators to make substantive changes to their reimbursement policies to ensure that these programs continue after the emergency is declared over. 
  4. The intellectual disability community needs COVID tracking – A recent report by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica found more than 1 out of every 5 residents in large residential state developmental centers had tested positive for Covid-19. 
  5. Health Disparities are front of mind for protesters: ‘If It’s Not Police … It’s Us Dying In A Hospital From The Pandemic’ 
  6. ‘We’re losing our kids’: Black youth suicide rate rising far faster than for whites; coronavirus, police violence deepen trauma 
  7. In New York, social distancing enforcement was tense even before the protests 
  8. As nursing home residents died, new covid-19 protections shielded companies from lawsuits. Families say that hides the truth. 
  9. How to Weigh Your Risks During a Pandemic: Two good columns from the New York Times over the last few days offering guidance to help assess the relative dangers of different activities during the pandemic.
    1. How to Navigate Your Community Reopening? Remember the Four C’s to limit your risks:
      1. Close contact,
      2. Confined spaces,
      3. Crowds,
      4. Choices
    1. 5 Rules to Live By During a Pandemic:  
      1. Check the health of your state and community – “Start by learning the percentage of positive Covid-19 tests in your state, which tells you if testing and contact tracing are finding mild and asymptomatic cases. When positive test rates stay at 5 percent or lower for two weeks, that suggests there’s adequate testing in your state to get virus transmission under control, and you’re less likely to cross paths with the virus. The closer the number is to 2 percent, the better.”
      2. Limit the number of your close contacts
      3. Manage your “exposure budget” – “Think about managing virus risk just as you might manage a diet: If you want dessert, eat a little less for dinner.”
      4. Keep higher risk activities as short as possible
      5. Keep taking pandemic precautions
        1. “Keep a mask handy. Wear a mask in enclosed spaces, when you shop or go to the office and anytime you are in close contact with people outside your household.
        2. “Practice social distancing — staying six feet apart — when you are with people who live outside your household. Keep social activities outdoors.
        3. “Wash hands frequently, and be mindful about touching public surfaces (elevator buttons, hand rails, subway poles, and other high-touch areas)
        4. “Adopt stricter quarantine practices if you or someone in your circle is at higher risk.
|2020-06-09T14:29:23-04:00June 9th, 2020|COVID-19 Literature|Comments Off on Law & Ethics Roundup – Stay-at-home order authority, Telehealth policy, Health disparities & vulnerable populations, Weighing pandemic risks

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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