Weekly Review: COVID-19 Legal and Ethics Issues – March 1, 2021

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Weekly Review: COVID-19 Legal and Ethics Issues – March 1, 2021

This week’s review will be more roundup than blog post, pointing you to new studies, analysis, and essays from the past week:


  • Third Vaccine ApprovedFDA issues Emergency Use Authorization for Johnson & Johnson vaccine – All of them are highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death from Covid-19. As Dr. Fauci states, “I would take whatever vaccine would be available to me.”
  • Employer Vaccine MandatesProf. Dorit Reiss interprets federal law to allow employers to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations. That said, both she and I are quoted in this piece from Pew’s Stateline advising that while employers should retain the authority to mandate, voluntary signups should be the preferred approach for most employers. From the article, “The best way to keep workplaces safe from COVID-19 and other diseases is to encourage workers to get vaccinated and make it easy for them to do so, such as by hosting vaccine clinics, said Silverman of Indiana University. He said employers should also think holistically about safety, such as by providing protective equipment.”
  • Vaccine Signup AccessibilityAn investigative report from Kaiser Health News found many states’ vaccine websites to be inaccessible for those with vision impairments, limiting such residents’ ability to independently register for appointments.

Health Equity & Structural Racism


Justice-Involved Populations

Court Decisions

  • Eviction Moratorium – a Federal judge in Texas has issued a widely-criticized decision declaring that the federal eviction moratorium violates the Commerce Clause. As one analyst wrote: “in order to affirm Barker’s opinion, an appeals court would need to conclude that all the evictions that take place in the United States do not have a substantial impact on the American housing market. Again, to describe Barker’s opinion is to refute it.” Furthermore, the judge did not impose an injunction in this case, which makes what happens next unclear.
  • Late Friday night, the Supreme Court issued another unsigned “shadow docket” 6-3 decision striking down a California county’s ban on indoor religious services, even though the ban treated both secular and religious gatherings equally (only allowing facilities to operate at 20% capacity for purposes other than gatherings). The bottom line message from the Court appears to be: states should shy away from regulating religious gatherings as a possible vector for infectious disease spread, even in emergencies and even when science clearly raises concerns about the public health impact of such activities.

Worth a read

|2021-03-01T08:43:26-05:00March 1st, 2021|COVID-19 Literature|Comments Off on Weekly Review: COVID-19 Legal and Ethics Issues – March 1, 2021

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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