Wednesday, January 13, 2021
The spread of the recent pandemic, COVID-19 – which began in Wuhan, in December of 2019 – has created an unprecedented impact on public health in the United States and across the world. As of November 1, 2020, the United States reported over nine million infection cases and 230,000 deaths. Those cases represent twenty percent of the reported infection cases in the world whereas the population of the United States is less than four percent of the world population. The United States has not been successful in managing this pandemic and stopping its spread effectively even though it possesses the largest medical, financial, and administrative resources in the world. This article analyzes the legal and institutional causes of this failure and explores possible remedies in three areas: provision of public healthcare to combat the pandemic; the regulation of public conduct to prevent the spread of the pandemic; and public access to information. The article also calls for a new approach; it explains why a law and development approach is relevant and applies the General Theory of Law and Development to assess the proposed remedies. The article advocates law and institutions as a remedy to fill the gaps created by ineffective political leadership in the management of COVID-19.