Most states have curbed public health authority since pandemic began: analysis

Most states have curbed public health authority since pandemic began: analysis
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Legislators in all 50 states have proposed bills that would limit some of the power given to public health officials at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At least 26 states have passed laws that weaken the government's public health authority, according to an analysis by Kaiser Health News.

The report said at least 17 states have banned coronavirus vaccine mandates or created loopholes, and nine states have prohibited or limited mask mandates.

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At least three states have used an executive order, ballot initiative or state Supreme court ruling to limit the power of public health officials, the report said.

Kaiser Health News noted that county commissioners in Idaho, who typically lack any public health expertise, were granted the authority to veto public health declarations. In states like Kansas and Tennessee, school boards rather than health officials, are now the decision makers on whether to close schools due to COVID-19, according to the analysis.

Proponents of the scaled-back authorities argue that their actions reflect the wishes of their constituents, while some in the public health sector attempt to preserve the pandemic-era rules.

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