The Network for Public Health Law: Network Report

April 9, 2020

COVID-19 Webinars and Resources

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is prompting continuous questions by public health agencies, health care workers, emergency managers, and policymakers about core legal preparedness and response efforts. The Network’s assistance to these agencies and organizations has informed a series of webinars, along with resources and other guidance, on legal responses to the outbreak. You can register for upcoming webinars and access recordings on the Network’s website.  Network law and policy experts are available to provide direct assistance – get details.



COVID-19: Focus on Emerging Constitutional Challenges

April 15 | 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. CST

This webinar will provide you with an understanding of core constitutional structural and rights-based issues at stake in COVID-19 responses; the nature of constitutional balancing during declared emergencies; an assessment of emerging or prospective constitutionally-grounded challenges or concerns related to governmental responses; and potential constitutional resolution of key issues.

Public Health Decision-Making in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 23 | 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. EST

Public health officials must routinely make difficult decisions whether, when, and how to act and what information to release to protect the public from a threat, such as COVID-19. Attend this webinar to learn about a legal and ethical framework for executive decision-making; strategies to avoid second-guessing and reduce exposure to liability based on hindsight; and to obtain a tool for effective and ethical executive decision-making and real-time documentation of the factual basis for a decision, reflecting information available at the time the decision was made.


Law and Policy Perspectives:

A Public Health Framework for Implementing Economic and Social Supports

The $2 trillion-plus Coronavirus response law, along with two other pandemic-related funding bills, provide for a vast array of new federally-funded programs and policies aimed at helping individuals and families battered by a global pandemic and harmed by the economic downturn precipitated by our broad-based public health response. An overarching public health framework can guide the shared work of federal, state and local agencies to implement these new policies and programs.

Removing Legal Barriers to Drug Testing Can Help Reduce Drug-Related Harm

Negative impact and harm, including death, from drug overdose continues to be a major public health issue. Laws designed to reduce this harm have assisted in efforts to reduce death from opioid overdose among people who use drugs. However, the country’s illicit drug supply is increasingly tainted with illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is many times more potent than heroin, and therefore many times more deadly. One way for people who use drugs to potentially avoid overdose from unknown levels of fentanyl in their drugs is to enable them to test their drugs before they use them.



Federal Emergency Food Security Measures in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was passed on March 18, 2020. FFCRA contains important measures that enhance the effectiveness of federal nutrition programs during the coronavirus pandemic. This fact sheet highlights key provisions of FFCRA and USDA actions that impact the Child Nutrition Programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

The Public Charge Rule and Public Health

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finalized its final public charge rule altering the definition of “public charge” as used in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Under the INA, a person seeking to adjust her or his status, such as applying for a green card, is inadmissible if deemed “likely at any time to become a public charge” at the time of the application for adjustment of status.  The Final Rule went into effect on February 24, 2020. This issue brief explains the Final Rule and how it altered the public charge analysis. It also addresses some common myths about the scope and applicability of the Final Rule and highlights public health concerns in the context of the chilling effect on the use of non-cash benefits.

Legality of Dispensing and Administering Expired Naloxone in Colorado

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have modified their laws to increase access to naloxone, the standard first-line treatment for opioid overdose. While these laws take a number of approaches to increase access to this life-saving medication, none explicitly address the legality of dispensing naloxone that is past its expiration date. This fact sheet discusses whether Colorado laws forbid the prescription, dispensing, distribution, possession, or administration of expired naloxone and whether such actions impact the risk of civil liability for medical professionals who prescribe or dispense naloxone or laypeople who distribute or administer it.


Worth Sharing:

COVID-19 Local Action Tracker 

The National League of Cities and Bloomberg Philanthropies have launched a project to collect and share actions taken by local leaders in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic through an online COVID-19 Local Action Tracker. The goal is to ensure mayors, city leaders, and other local decision makers have the information they need to lead their communities through this crisis. They are requesting that cities submit their actions online through the tracker.


Why Public Health Matters

For months, public health professionals have been working to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect communities across the country. Much of this important work is behind the scenes and goes unnoticed by most people. The Network has joined a new effort to tell the stories of public health professionals through short videos. Learn more and tell your story.