Report: 26 states have limited state or local officials’ public health powers

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Republican lawmakers in more than half of US states have undermined the authority of state or local officials to implement policies to protect the public against the coronavirus and other infectious diseases, AP and Kaiser Health News Report.

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big picture: Since the coronavirus pandemic began, lawmakers in all 50 states have introduced bills to curb public health authority over state and local authorities, a KHN review found.

state of play: The review found that 26 states have passed such laws, and in three additional states, executive orders, ballot initiatives or state Supreme Court decisions have limited public health authority per AP.

  • In at least 16 states, lawmakers have limited powers for public health officials to mandate masks, quarantine or isolation.
  • At least 17 states have passed bills banning vaccine passports or mandates.
  • At least nine states have laws banning or limiting mask mandates. In the other five, mandates are limited by executive orders.
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zoom in: In Arkansas, the state legislature passed a bill banning masked mandates — a measure government Asa Hutchinson (R) said she regrets signing into law.

  • In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed an executive order Masks are mandatory to be banned in schools, even in the case of coronavirus increased summer in the state. Several school districts have disobeyed the order.
  • Idaho county commissioners, most of whom do not have a health background, can veto county public health requirements per AP.

What are they saying: Lori Tremmel Freeman, head of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, told the AP and KHN: “We could actually see more people getting sick, hurt, hospitalized or even dying than they are.” Depends on the extremes of the law and the curtailment of authority.” .

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On the other end: Those in favor of the limits argue that they are “a necessary check on executive powers,” the AP writes, citing Republican lawmakers.

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