Assessing legal responses to COVID-19 graphic.

New Report Assesses Legal Responses to COVID-19

Assessing Legal Responses to COVID-19 is a new, in-depth analysis of U.S. legal and policy responses to the pandemic.

In the report, 50 top national experts offer a new assessment of the U.S. policy response to the crisis. The research details the widespread failure of the country’s leadership in planning and executing a cohesive, national response, and how the crisis exposed weaknesses in the nation’s health care and public health systems.

The report’s authors also offer recommendations on how federal, state and local leaders can better respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics. Their proposals recommend how to strengthen executive leadership for a stronger emergency response; expand access to public health, health care, and telehealth; fortify protections for workers; and implement a fair and humane immigration policy.

The 35 chapters are subdivided into 6 Parts:

Part 1: Using Government Powers to Control the Pandemic

Part 2: Fulfilling Governmental Responsibility in a Federal System

Part 3: Financing and Delivering Health Care

Part 4: Assuring Access to Medicines and Medical Supplies

Part 5: Protecting Workers and Families

Part 6: Taking on Disparities and Protecting Equal Rights

The authors provide more than 100 recommendations for legal action in response to COVID-19. These include calls for urgent action now, as well as longer term changes that reflect the way the pandemic has exposed deeper problems in American law and policy. They include recommendations for federal, state and local levels.

The recommendations focus on the following key objectives:

  • Grounding legal measures in the best available science.
  • Collecting and assessing accurate data.
  • Improving and expanding access to health care, both now and post-pandemic.
  • Increasing and maintaining funding for public health emergency preparedness through a dedicated public health emergency fund.
  • Reforming the public health and health care systems to enable them to respond more effectively and equitably during a pandemic, and reduce disparities.
  • Addressing the affordability and availability of broadband service throughout the United States.

The assessment was edited by Scott Burris, Temple University Beasley School of Law; Sarah de Guia, ChangeLab Solutions; Lance Gable, Wayne State University Law School; Donna Levin, Network for Public Health Law; Wendy E. Parmet, Northeastern University School of Law, and Nicolas P. Terry, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

The report was sponsored by the American Public Health Association and the de Beaumont Foundation. It was produced by Public Health Law Watch in cooperation with the Center for Public Health Law Research at Temple University Beasley School of Law, Center for Health Policy and Law, Northeastern University School of Law, Wayne State University Law School, the IU McKinney Hall Center for Law and Health, The Network for Public Health Law, and ChangeLab Solutions.

For further information, contact Liz Voyles, Principal, Brass Ring Communications at, 202-297-9641.

Nicolas P. Terry

Nicolas Terry is the Hall Render Professor of Law at Indiana University McKinney School of Law where he serves as the Executive Director of the Hall Center for Law and Health and teaches various healthcare and health policy courses. His recent scholarship has dealt with health privacy, mobile health, the Internet of Things, Big Data, AI, and the opioid overdose epidemic. He serves on IU’s Grand Challenges Scientific Leadership Team, working on the addictions crisis and is the PI on addictions law and policy Grand Challenge grants. His podcast is at, and he is @nicolasterry on Twitter.

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