Daily Digest (4/28)

AG Barr to Prosecutors: Look for Unconstitutional Coronavirus Rules; WHO Pushes Back on Chile’s ‘Immunity Passport’ Plan; EEOC Publishes COVID-19 Privacy Advisory for Employers and Workers; Hawaii Weighs Stronger Policies to Track Tourists Amid Pandemic. Click below for more.

AG Barr to Prosecutors: Look for Unconstitutional Coronavirus Rules

Attorney General William Barr ordered federal prosecutors across the country on Monday to identify coronavirus-related laws from state and local governments “that could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens.”

The memo to U.S. attorneys directs the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division and the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan to coordinate efforts for monitoring state and local policies and to take action if needed, The Associated Press reports.

“If a state or local ordinance crosses the line from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of COVID-19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections, the Department of Justice may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court,” Barr said.

The attorney general’s memo comes roughly two weeks after the Justice Department sided with a Christian church in Mississippi that had sued local officials for trying to stop Holy Week services that were broadcasted to congregants sitting in their cars in the parking lot.

In addition, the directive comes as many stay-at-home orders are set to expire and governors are moving to ease restrictions meant to control the spread of coronavirus, even as new hot spots emerge and experts warn that moving too fast could prove disastrous, AP reports.

Source (external link):
AP News, Barr to prosecutors: Look for unconstitutional virus rules 

WHO Pushes Back on Chile’s ‘Immunity Passport’ Plan

The World Health Organization has challenged the theory that individuals can catch coronavirus only once, as well as proposals for reopening society that are based on this alleged immunity.

In a scientific brief dated Friday, the United Nations agency said the idea that one-time infection can lead to immunity remained unproven and was thus unreliable as a foundation for the next phase of the world’s response to the pandemic, NPR reports.

“Some governments have suggested that the detection of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could serve as the basis for an ‘immunity passport’ or ‘risk-free certificate’ that would enable individuals to travel or to return to work assuming that they are protected against re-infection,” the WHO wrote.

“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”

Chile said last week that it would begin issuing immunity cards that effectively act as passports, allowing travelers to clear security at airports with a document that purportedly shows they have recovered from the virus.

Authorities and researchers in other countries, including France and the U.K., have expressed similar interest, while some officials in the U.S. — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, among them — have mentioned the passports as part of a reopening strategy.

Source (external link):
NPR, ‘No Evidence’ Yet That Recovered COVID-19 Patients Are Immune, WHO Says

EEOC Publishes COVID-19 Privacy Advisory for Employers and Workers

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published an FAQ document related to COVID-19 that addresses privacy matters regarding employee medical records and employer hiring procedures.

According to the document, for instance, equal-employment laws, including the Americans for Disabilities Act and others, “continue to apply during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they do not interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC or state and local public-health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19.

“Employers should remember,” Thursday’s document continued, “that guidance from public-health authorities is likely to change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

“Therefore, employers should continue to follow the most current information on maintaining workplace safety.”

Source (external link):
EEOC.gov, What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and COVID-19 

Hawaii Weighs Stronger Policies to Track Tourists Amid Pandemic

Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors is evaluating the legality of using ankle bracelets or other tracking devices to ensure tourists are following the rules of a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

Connors told state legislators last week that some ideas being proposed could pose constitutional questions, Hawaii News Now reports.

“It runs the gamut of what they’re doing in Taiwan, which is you wear an ankle bracelet for 14 days — and if it goes outside your hotel room, it pings, and that’s the only information that gets conveyed to the 24/7 GPS, where we know exactly where you are, what you’re doing at all times,” Connors said last week.

About 100 visitors arrive every day in the state — and one local attorney told the website that officials should call visitors days ahead to verify whether they were aware of the quarantine rules and whether they were willing to sign documents acknowledging compliance.

Source (external link):
Hawaii News Now, Welcome to Hawaii. Here’s your ankle monitor: Stronger policies to track tourists eyed

— By DPN Staff