‘It's a Tsunami': Legal Challenges Threatening Public Health Policy
America's collective health is at risk, critics say, as one legal challenge after another weakens the ability of health authorities to keep COVID-19 safety and prevention policies in place. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — the go-to source for public health guidance — has come out on the losing end of four court cases over the past year that have challenged its pandemic orders. Thousands more lawsuits have been lodged during the pandemic against health bodies at the state and local levels, with the goal of stamping out mask and vaccine mandates, social distancing requirements, and business lockdowns. While the courts have largely ruled in favor of the defendants in these cases, experts worry the decisions involving CDC and other federal agencies reflect the short-sightedness of judges who are not considering scientific evidence and/or expertise into consideration. "Historically, there's been some level of deference to experts who are using their legal authority to save lives," said Joshua Sharfstein, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. "But that has been eroding. The courts have increasingly not really cared to assess the implications of the decisions for health."
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