The Coronavirus Pandemic in Modern World

The Coronavirus pandemic is a newly defining global health crisis. The virus is proving to be the most significant worldwide challenge since World War II. As a health crisis, the outbreak can potentially create crucial economic, social, and political challenges. The government and other relevant policymakers are to ensure the minimal spread of the virus. In addition, the authorities are mandated to cushion public and private sectors from the risks and effects of the pandemic (Alber, 2020). The officials in California have declared a state of emergency aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. At the same time, the government has limited sweeping powers to fight infectious diseases.

However, there should be existing mechanisms to challenge the elected officials’ decisions. The measures reached upon should be protective and not go against constitutional safeguards when executed. The US government should work hand in hand with communities to ensure the maintenance of public safety. The country has passed emergency legislation that permits the state to detain and isolate infected individuals as a measure of preventing further spread. The Coronavirus pandemic is slowly influencing state powers and laws, all aimed at curbing the further spread and improving public health and safety.

Identifying the Impacts

Effect of Coronavirus on Federal and State Government Emergency Powers

The infiltration of Coronavirus across the world has foreseen the invoking of executive powers by respective leaders. In addition, as citizens call for action, the country’s leaders are adopting virtual dictatorial authority that has been met by minimal resistance. The US authorities have concluded that the state needs new powers to enforce such measures as shutting borders and imposing quarantines to curb the spread of the virus (Alber, 2020). Constitutional lawyers have further argued that the mentioned measures are protected under international rules. However, some legal experts have suggested that the officials are taking advantage of the ongoing health crisis to enable the acquisition of new powers. In addition, there is an opinion that the government is putting in place minimal safeguards towards ensuring that the acquired powers are not misused. There exist few provisions to follow up on the withdrawal of power once the pandemic passes.

Following the broadening of state surveillance, the government has infringed on the freedom of assembly and detained individuals suspected to have contracted the virus. The new laws could potentially shape politics, economies, and civic life even after the health crisis is gone. The pandemic has brought about standards across the world following the redefinition of norms. For instance, invasive surveillance systems that would bring about censure ordinarily are adopted as a means of slowing the rate of the spread of Coronavirus in Singapore (Fang & Yang, 2020). Also, those officials that initially criticized China for passing a lockdown have since taken up the measure. An example of Israel may be cited, where internal security agencies track citizens with the use of systems generated for counter-terrorism as a means of tracing movements (Fang & Yang, 2020). The closing down of court systems in several countries is a tactic aimed at delaying court processes for leaders with pending court hearings.

Human rights activists have stated that limitless allowance of emergency powers is akin to autocracy. New emergency laws revive the old fears of martial law. For instance, the Philippine Congress has recently mitigated the statute that aims to allow the President to take over private institutions (Fang & Yang, 2020). In addition, some governments adopt new laws to crack down dissent and limit the freedom of speech for people and news media. Different officials sue and intimidate journalists and individuals for critiquing government responses and causing panic through the spread of fabrications. For instance, the declaration of the state of the catastrophe in Chile has curbed dissent that was prevalent in the country for years (Sherwood, 2020). Rights advocates have faulted the speedy drafting and enactment of legislation and emergency bills citing that previous emergency laws have outlived the crises. They state that the continual decree of emergency laws infuses legal structures that end up normalized (Fang & Yang, 2020). In addition, different stakeholders highlight the difficulties involved in the deconstruction of emergency powers, which is also a challenge.

An example of the Hungarian prime minister may be highlighted, who has acquired the power to suspend existing laws, as well as overrun the parliament. This measure, in turn, may lead to the erosion of democratic institutions (Fang & Yang, 2020). Commentators have also indicated the tendency of prolonging emergency legislation by governments in cases, such as the Europe mitigation crisis that is still existent, as a threat to democracy and civil liberties (Fang & Yang, 2020). Moreover, robust democracies take advantage of the pandemic to expand power. For instance, the British authorities have enforced the power to ban public gatherings, close airports, and ports, and detain citizens indefinitely (Fang & Yang, 2020). Such new capabilities provide ministries with expanded potential, although the UK has established democratic customs and rich history of democracy.

In democratic constitutional systems with a balance of power, the executive branch of government bears the principal role in fighting the Coronavirus pandemic. State governors, such as Gavin Newsom in California, have implemented a virtual lockdown for residents and the closure of businesses (Cooper & Worker, 2020). In addition, they have an authority to regulate the activities within their respective boundaries. The US government has legal and moral obligations to protect public health and safety. Through the local legislation, state officials can impose a quarantine, close businesses, and limit travel as they may consultatively deem necessary (Cooper & Worker, 2020). However, the mentioned powers are subject to constitutional limits. The USA is operating under three emergencies that are reliant upon legal authorities. The HHS emergency declaration allows flexibility in the assigning of personnel towards crisis response. In addition, the decree allows for a waiver of existing laws to enable a quicker response to the pandemic. The NEA declaration works towards the issuance of medical waivers to facilitate the provision of medical services. The declaration modifies existing barriers towards the provision of medical care, such as limitations on payment and certification requirements.

On the other hand, the declaraunderant to the Stafford Act, allows supplementing the federal state and local government effort following a state request. It indicates a bottom-up strategy in fighting the pandemic. The bottom-up strategy is a deflation of the norm since the local authorities are subordinate to the government. Federalism is the constitutional means of the distribution of decision-making authority from the national government to the states (Kruse, 2020). The Constitution mandates the federal government the power to address defense, monetary and foreign policies. Also, the states are mandated to handle citizens’ wellbeing, such as an education policy, healthcare, and the regulation of elections. The coordinated handling of the Coronavirus pandemic by national and state governments is an example of the effect of the epidemic on federal power. The Constitution of California grants authority for urgency statutes on a need tneed-to-need aimed at the preservation of health, safety, and public peace. The California declaration of a state of emergency waived state regulations, thereby permitting the interstate provision of medical care and the ability of local governments to establish emergency proclamations within the respective states.

General State Emergency Powers

Executive power holders have a legal guideline as to how they can use it during a state of emergency. According to Brennan Center’s research, several relevant laws provide a framework on how different types of emergencies should be handled (Brennan Center for Justice, 2018). These emergencies are public health emergencies such as pandemics, major disasters, and national emergencies (Brennan Center for Justice, 2018). There are occasions that may trigger the use of emergency laws, and some incidents confirm this. The 1976 National Emergencies Act indicates that during a national emergency period, the President should declare a national emergency after congress authorization. There are requirements provided by the National Emergencies Act that imply various conditions that the leader of the country has to follow in exercising presidential powers (Zhong et al., 2020). The state should be provided with federal assistance if need be to supplement the efforts of local authorities to save lives, lessen the impact of the disaster, keep property, and protect public safety and health.

The 1988 Act on Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance defines significant disasters that include such natural catastrophes as a hurricane, storms, tsunami, earthquake, and landslides (Brennan Center for Justice, 2018). In addition, it also clarifies volcanic eruptions, snowstorms, mudslide, and drought as natural disasters (Brennan Center for Justice, 2018). If the disaster causes damage that will require major assistance, the President will warrant the supplementation of support to alleviate loss and damages. Those public health services whose supply receives the diverted funds include insurance coverage and other benefits that may help citizens to remain safe during emergencies. After a consultation between the secretary and health officials, the secretary can determine a disorder or disease that calls for a public health emergency (Zhong et al., 2020). Public health emergencies include the outbreak of infectious illnesses, among other conditions.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services has the power to authorize the use of an unapproved device, biological product, or drugs in a specific situation. In particular, according to Brennan Center for Justice (2018), this occurs when the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that there is a local emergency or a high possibility of a local emergency. These cases involve a high risk of attack with radiological, chemical, nuclear, or biological agents. Legally, this is the Secretary of Defense who determines that there is a military emergency or high risk of an attack of United States forces by use of a nuclear, biological, radiological, or chemical agent.

The President has declared a list of emergencies, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in 1994 and Assertionthe of a National Emergency due to H1N1 Influenza in 2009 (Brennan Center for Justice, 2018). According to RobertStafford’sford 1988 Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, in case of an emergency or major disaster, the governor can petition the President to make a declaration (Brennan Center for Justice, 2018). This also occurs if the governor finds that the magnitude of the disaster severe. These points present a guideline to those wielding executive powers on how best they can take relevant measures in case of an emergency.

Californian Emergency Powers

Gavin Newsom, the state governor of California, issued an executive order N-33-20 on March 19, 2020. It required the local people to stay home except for those who offer essential services in accordance with the “Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers during the COVID-19 Response” (Executive Department of California, 2020). The order had no deadline on how long residents will have to stay isolated hence till further notice (Rooney, 2019). The primary purpose of the order is to control the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that the emergency and healthcare system are not overwhelmed, therefore able to serve the affected adequately.

Despite the order provisions, it recognizes the fact that that supply chain for essentials is to continue since the people of California need to access essential services. Citizens have to maintain social distancing once they leave their homes to get basic services, such as food, healthcare, or prescriptions. Several crucial sectors had to continue operating during the stay-at-home order. CISA outlines 16 infrastructure sectors that are crucial for the federal government (Executive Department of California, 2020). The destruction of any form of these sectors, its assets, network, or system will hurt the national economy, security, healthcare, and safety. These sectors include; Manufacturing Sector, Agriculture and Food Sector, and Financial Services. Other industries that are also crucial are Healthcare, Security, and Information technology. The governor of California required the closure of most entertainment places, such as bars, convention centers, and movie theatres. Additional areas that attract large crowds, for instance, shopping malls, amusement parks, casinos, and conference centers, were directed to close to avoid gatherings. These restrictions aim to prevent social conventions that can accelerate the spread of the virus.

Effect of Coronavirus on the US Public Safety

Stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures have been effected in most parts of the country. In addition, essential workers and first responders have remained put in workplaces, partaking actively in the fight against Coronavirus (Kruse, 2020). Consequently, the aforementioned employees are at risk of contracting the virus. Also, police departments are unusually busy in the imposition of social distancing, thereby placing officers at risk. However, law enforcement agencies are required to strike a balance between self-protection and the protection of civilians. The government has identified isolation as one of the key pillars necessary for the containment of the Coronavirus. The presented efforts are all in a bid to ensure the crucial standards of public safety are maintained.

The government has implemented emergency legislation aimed at ensuring public safety. For instance, as Lee (2020) notes, the new laws allow for the detention of individuals identified to be of potential risk to other members of society. Moreover, the regulations allow for the arrest and prosecution of individuals who fault the measures put in place by the government. The detention law covers such purposes as the screening of the virus, the collection of personal health information, isolation, and analyzing samples obtained (Lee, 2020). The state healthcare officials can execute citizen detention with an allowance for an extension on a need-to-need basis to facilitate follow-up care and monitoring of potentially infected individuals. The law stipulates criminal offenses for those who supply misleading information, fail to comply with detention rules, and obstruct government officials from performing their respective duties. In addition, police departments are thereby allowed to use force during the implementation of the rule, which is also in the interests of public safety.

The emergency powers have been adopted as essential precautionary measures. The government has encouraged citizens to voluntarily comply with the set rules and regulations to protect themselves from the Coronavirus. In addition, the adopted provisions are to be used only in those instances where the powers are proportional to the potential risk of the further spread of the pandemic. Nevertheless, human rights activists have stated that compulsory detainment and the forced sharing of health information interferes with the right to privacy and liberty (Lee, 2020). The government has thereby encouraged law enforcers agencies to respect the rights and wellbeing of the detained citizens.

The government’s response to the pandemic is effective due to the joint efforts of the authorities and citizens (Lee, 2020). The state is committed to the maintenance of social protection programs, monitoring the quality of water, and ensuring public safety. Authorities require capable government agencies to respond to the pandemic and to foresee continuity in the vital state functions that guarantee public safety. The government has established data systems that monitor the effect of the coronavirus pandemic, along with channels through which the mental health of first responders is maintained.

The government is fostering the effective communication of bottlenecks and rapid responses to the pandemic. Such measures as the closing of borders, transport restrictions, and the quarantine regime are geared towards the maintenance of public safety. Social distancing actions include the closing of institutions, churches, anworkstationsns, and these actions aim to reduce community fueled transmissions, which, in turn, exacerbate the situation and increase the risks of spreading the infection. The government has urged employers to adopt virtual alternatives for conferences and work to maintain public safety.

Impact of the Coronavirus on the Justice System

The criminal justice system has been operating less owing to the restrictions in movement imposed following the Coronavirus pandemic. In California, for instance, the Chief Justice anticipates a suspension of court operations as serious offense cases have been adjourned pending the easing of the mentioned restrictions (Reynolds, 2020). The changing circumstances have resulted in a subsequent change in offending patterns and behavior. In some states, however, there has been a reported increase in domestic abuse allegations. A subsequent decrease in residential burglaries and general crimes is a consequence of the quarantine the country is in now.

The United States criminal justice system is slowly reacting to the risk imposed by the Coronavirus in detention centers. The pandemic poses a threat to prisoners held in various detention centers and individuals who interact with the detainees across the country. The first personnel in these facilities, such as police officers, court staff, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and correction officials, are more vulnerable following the delays in response regarding the Coronavirus pandemic (Li, 2020). The aforementioned staff, alongside prisoners, face imminent tthreatsshould the virus reach country prisons and jails. Prosecutors have since stated a go-slow on low-level cases that involve no violence to adhere to implemented restrictions on movement, as well as ease the number of individuals locked up forcibly (Li, 2020; Reynolds, 2020). These urgent measures are aimed at ensuring minimal crowding that translates into a reduction in the community spread of the virus. In addition, an alliance of elected prosecutors has called for the release oflocked-upp individuals in line with the implementation of isolation as a means of curbing the virus.

However, there exist federal immigration hearings that are currently ongoing. Respective officials continue rounding up individuals termed as undocumented immigrants. In addition, the prosecution of traffic offenders by local officials is still underway (Lippi & Plebani, 2020). Operational criminal courts consisting of defense attorneys with detained clients have the option of engaging the government in communication towards avoiding the risk of Coronavirus in prison institutions. Lippi and Plebani (2020) provide an example of Ohio, where sheriffs have begun the release of individuals serving for cases that involved no violence to reduce burden experienced by law enforcement agencies. On the other hand, Los Angeles County has successfully managed to quarantine incarcerated individuals. These are logical solutions, and sheriffs across the country should purpose to implement measures that reduce crowding in the prison system to protect the incarcerated and those individuals who interact and handle the detained.

Correctional facilities exercise limitations today, such as the prohibition of visitation and screening procedures in the facilities. In addition, New York is producing hand sanitizers with the use of prison labor, and the release of detainees is allowed, who fail to make bail for nonviolent cases (Lippi & Plebani, 2020). The release of prisoners to state penitentiary institutions has also been affected following the regulations set aside to curb the Coronavirus.

The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed severe gaps existing in the criminal justice system. Released prisoners and excused defendants of nonviolent crimes benefit from the compassion of officials seeking to ensure public health and safety in the systems. The pandemic is seen to be grinding the US criminal justice to a halt following the cancellation of court hearings. The postponement of proceedings is unfit, particularly in cases when fundamental rights are at stake (Majumder & Mandl, 2020). The pandemic is wrecking the ability of court systems to handle workloads and dispense justice as the rule of law. Nevertheless, when considering the current situation, one should note that the court systems have experienced backlogs and an increased rise in contemporary matters awaiting handling.

The Coronavirus crisis has impaired the acquisition of justice for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in society. These communities include those in precarious employment, persons in isolation, and individuals struggling with mental health issues. The pandemic has also affected a speedy digital transition in the judicial sector. The Supreme Court has banned visitors and postponed oral arguments. The court intends to conduct business in private conferences, some on the telephone. Judges have suspended local court rules while state courtsare encouraged to adopt the use of virtual options. The slowdown in the court systems is the inhibition of justice for individuals with immediate problems, detainees awaiting trial, tenants facing eviction, and people requiring protective order. Court systems have also facilitated the release of old inmates and those with underlying health conditions as a means of protection against the Coronavirus following the crowding situation in prisons. The criminal justice sphere has faced the task of ensuring the reduction of the spread of the virus and commitment towards the fundamental need for public safety.

Countries mitigate the closure of courts through the adoption of technology, for instance, electronic trials to replace traditional court hearings. Rasool and Uqab (2020) provide an example of a video trial, which is the first time in history. The potential consequences for individuals in pre-trial detention include potential violations of fundamental rights. This framework mandates the government to protect the civil rights of the accused. The closure of courts presents a likely scenario of detaining those in custody for more extended periods than the norm. Prolonged detention may affect the mental health of the affected in the long term. The court systems have allowed for non-repeat offenders to be subjected to electronic tracking devices and house arrest as opposed to detention. Additional alternatives for pre-trial detainees help curb the further spread of the Coronavirus, as well as protect detainees from experiencing additional trauma.

Mitigating the Impacts

The incorporation of technology in the court systems is vital. User-friendly digital technology ensures continued access to interaction with responsible boards, thereby preventing unnecessary court adjournments. Innovative systems should involve secured video conferencing, the encrypted exchange of materials, and digital evidence management systems. The advancement in technology ensures court systems are in operation even in the wake of such a severe pandemic as the Coronavirus.

The federal government should implement emergency powers that permit the authorities to enact measures geared towards the containment of the spread of the Coronavirus. The pandemic may expand its detrimental effect further through people’s contacts and crowding (Rasool & Uqab, 2020). Therefore, the implementation of curfews, quarantine, social distancing, and isolation are vital measures in preventing the spread. The government should maintain collaborative efforts with all necessary stakeholders while adopting legislative action to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. In addition, the responsible arm of government, departments, and agencies should be in a position to cushion the economy financially during challenges times when the pandemic cripples the country’s budget.

Federal lawmakers should protect public health through appropriate legislative solutions. The stakeholders, in turn, should facilitate the removal of financial barriers associated with seeking treatment both locally and at the national level. In addition, the government needs to increase access to testing services through the provision of emergency funding of the existing healthcare systems. For instance, the authorities can coordinate testing and analysis as the methods of tracking the spread of the Coronavirus. Different organizations’ heads should waive copay and other coinsurance payment services during the process of testing for the Coronavirus.

Moreover, the government should expand healthcare coverage in all the states for citizens and first responders. The authorities can create accessible communication systems regarding the virus to the public. For instance, hotlines, public service announcements, and social media campaigns are essential sources of information. The government should enact the law of reprieve as an active method against the further spread of the Coronavirus. The law of reprieve allows the authorities to temporarily suspend sentences while releasing prisoners as a method of active decongestion in the systems. The use of administrative efforts, such as home detention, is insufficient since the crowding effect in prisons encourages the further spread of the virus (Rasool & Uqab, 2020). Indiscriminate reprieve should be in line with other established measures, in particular, quarantine, as well as modifications in sentences to promote compliance. On the other hand, the prison system should adopt new standards, such as allowing telephone calls with family following the implementation of measures banning visitation. While the entire world adopts technology as a new norm, the prison systems should not be left behind to avoid unnecessary unrest.

Governments should encourage citizens to participate in national service during the pandemic actively. For instance, the authorities could train the youth such a skill as contact tracing to effectively reach out to all individuals suspected to have contracted the virus (Wilder-Smith & Freedman, 2020). The engagement of the young people will not only curb unemployment but also act as a lifeline for regions hardest hit by the Coronavirus. The mentioned labor-intensive tasks could also include the education of the public through online campaigns on the ways of stopping the further spread of the Coronavirus. The government should also put in place reward systems for medical personnel on the frontline to encourage the struggle against the virus. In addition, compensation programs and bonuses would motivate the commitment of employees in the healthcare sector. Local governments may also raise revenue with the use of fiscal tools available. The pandemic is financially crippling the economy; thereby, the extra money would go a long way in the efforts aimed to prevent the further spread of the virus. The generation of revenue could include sales and property taxes.


The Coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on both the United States and the world as a whole, and the adoption of measures to combat the virus is the key to overcoming the healthcare crisis. Different states have passed emergency legislation tpermitsrmit them to detain and isolate infected individuals as a measure of preventing a further spread. The pandemic has influenced state powers and laws, all aimed at struggling against the Coronavirus. Following the broadening of state surveillance, governments have infringed on the freedom of detained individuals suspected to have contracted the virus. Critics have even indicated that some authorities are taking advantage of the ongoing health crisis to enable the acquisition of new powers. In addition, different governments put in place minimal safeguards towards ensuring that the powers intended for precautionary measures are not misused. Governments have encouraged citizens to voluntarily comply with the set rules and regulations to cope with the outbreak.

The pandemic has also affected speethe dy digital transition in the judicial sector. The Supreme Court has banned visitors and postponed oral arguments. The court intends to conduct business in private conferences, some on the telephone. Judges have suspended local rules while state courts have been encouraged to adopt the use of virtual options. The government has implemented emergency legislation aimed at ensuring public safety. For instance, the new laws allow for the detention of individuals identified to be a potential risk to other citizens. The government should enact specific measures, such as the law of reprieve, as an active method that prevents the further spread of the Coronavirus. The act of pardon allows the government to temporarily suspend sentences while releasing prisoners. The practical significance of the conducted analysis lies in an opportunity to assess the current measures taken by the parties involved and identify additional valuable interventions.


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