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Presidential Powers and Response to COVID-19

Presidential Powers and Response to COVID-19. Lawrence O. Gostin, JD; James G. Hodge Jr, JD, LLM; Lindsay F. Wiley, JD, MPH. JAMA. Published online March 18, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.4335 [h/t Mary Whisner]

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) modeling suggests that, without mitigation, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), could infect more than 60% of the US population.1 President Trump has declared a national emergency along with 50 governors declaring state emergencies, which are unprecedented actions. Social distancing aims to flatten the epidemic curve to moderate demand on the health system. Consequently, whether through voluntary actions or state mandates, individuals are increasingly sheltering at home, schools and universities are closing, businesses are altering operations, and mass gatherings are being canceled. On March 16, the health officers of 6 local governments in the San Francisco Bay Area issued mandatory orders to shelter in place, making it a misdemeanor offense to leave home for any nonessential purpose. Some countries have resorted to more aggressive measures, including cordons sanitaire (guarded areas in which individuals may not enter or leave) or large-scale ordering of individuals to remain in their homes at all times. What powers do the president and governors have in the United States? How should individual rights be balanced with public health at a critical point in safeguarding the nation’s health?”

See also Executive Order on Prioritizing and Allocating Health and Medical Resources to Respond to the Spread of Covid-19

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