Weekly Review: COVID-19 Legal & Ethics Issues – September 8, 2020

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Weekly Review: COVID-19 Legal & Ethics Issues – September 8, 2020

Weekly Review: COVID-19 Legal & Ethics Issues – September 8, 2020

Nationwide Eviction Freeze

The CDC issued an Emergency Action this week implementing a nationwide temporary freeze on evictions. The freeze runs from September 4 through December 31, 2020.

Here is a link to the CDC’s Declaration Form which must be filled out by those seeking help under the policy.

To qualify for protection under the Emergency Action, tenants must certify the following:

  • I have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
  • I either expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
  • I am unable to pay my full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  • I am using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses;
  • If evicted I would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters because I have no other available housing options.
  • I understand that I must still pay rent or make a housing payment, and comply with other obligations that I may have under my tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract. I further understand that fees, penalties, or interest for not paying rent or making a housing payment on time as required by my tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract may still be charged or collected.
  • I further understand that at the end of this temporary halt on evictions on December 31, 2020, my housing provider may require payment in full for all payments not made prior to and during the temporary halt and failure to pay may make me subject to eviction pursuant to state and local laws.

While housing policy experts praise this step to fend off a national “eviction tsunami” that is already under way, the measure is, at best, a partial one, as it does not ensure that property owners will receive funding to defray the costs of freezing evictions, nor does it free those currently struggling from paying their rent from their financial obligations. Without a significant economic turnaround resulting in improved employment and incomes for tens of millions, additional rental assistance support from states or the federal government, and/or emergency action abolishing rent requirements, this freeze, at best, “kicks the can down the road,” and most of those covered by this eviction freeze will be in a similar or worse situation come the new year.

The Emergency Action also is likely to be challenged in court. This article lays out many of the legal concerns about the agency’s authority to enforce this action.

COVID-19 Vaccine Policy Updates

There has been a lot of news and speculation this week about Covid-19 vaccines. News reports hint that the Food and Drug Administration is considering making promising vaccines available to the public by approving them under their more lenient Emergency Use Authorization process, rather than waiting for the results of Phase III safety and efficacy testing to be complete. This has been met with significant concern from vaccine experts, public health officials, and others, who worry this may undercut public confidence in vaccine safety. History also has shown that rushing a vaccine out can have devastating public health and political consequences. The scientific head of the nation’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine development and distribution effort, the former head of vaccine development at GlaxoSmithKline, has indicated he would resign if he felt that political pressure resulted in an unsafe or ineffective vaccine getting approved. to speed up the ability of promising vaccines to become

On a related note, late in August, the Centers for Disease Control sent an urgent request out to state governors to begin preparing local policies, personnel, and infrastructure to stand up by no later than November 1, 2020 a national Covid-19 vaccine distribution network. Here you can see a copy of the letter that was sent.  Health Officials nationwide, and particularly those in rural and underserved areas with underfunded public health systems, worry about their ability to be prepared to receive and distribute the vaccine under these tight deadlines.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released their draft framework last Tuesday on how to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine, knowing that not everyone who wants the shot(s) will be able to get them as soon as the vaccine is approved.

Finally, I wrote a piece this week on whether religious exemptions could trump a state or employer’s policy mandating Covid-19 vaccination.

Short takes

|2020-09-08T11:27:09-04:00September 8th, 2020|COVID-19 Literature|0 Comments

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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