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The Social Distancing Law Project Template: A Method for Jurisdictions to Assess Understanding of Relevant Legal Authorities

  • Karen Leeb, Denise Chrysler and Richard A. Goodman

Abstract

Methods: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials selected 17 state and large local jurisdictions on the basis of their proximity to federal quarantine stations and collaborated with their state health department legal counsel to conduct formulaic self-assessments of social distancing legal authorities, create tables of authority, and test and report on the laws' sufficiency (ie, scope and breadth). Select jurisdictions also held tabletop exercises to test public health and law enforcement officials' understanding and implementation of pertinent laws. This report presents findings for Michigan, which completed the legal assessment and tabletop exercise and made several recommendations for change as a result.

Results: Officials in Michigan concluded that there are sufficient existing laws to support social distancing measures but that a spectrum of questions remained regarding implementation of these legal authorities. Based on the findings of this assessment, Michigan initiated actions to address areas for improvement.

Conclusions: The results of this project highlighted the value of integrally involving the state health department's legal counsel—those most familiar with and who advise on a given state's public health laws—in the periodic identification, assessment, and testing of the state's legal authorities for social distancing and other measures used in response to many public health emergencies.

(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2010;4:74-80)

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Address correspondence and reprint requests to Richard Goodman, MD, JD, MPH, Public Health Law Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mailstop D-30, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333 (e-mail: rag4@cdc.gov).

References

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The Social Distancing Law Project Template: A Method for Jurisdictions to Assess Understanding of Relevant Legal Authorities

  • Karen Leeb, Denise Chrysler and Richard A. Goodman

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