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US Emergency Legal Responses to Novel Coronavirus Balancing Public Health and Civil Liberties

Published time: 13 February 2020

Authors: Lawrence O. Gostin, James G. Hodge


With increasing numbers of cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) globally and in the United States, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar declared a national public health emergency on January 31.1 The emergency declaration of the HHS authorizes additional resources, enhanced federal powers, interjurisdictional coordination, and waivers of specific regulations. State and local public health emergency declarations are also likely. During crises, the government has a special responsibility to thoughtfully balance public health protections and civil liberties.

US Emergency Legal Responses to Novel Coronavirus



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