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Public Health Law


Emergency preparedness protects public health by providing services and resources to prevent or respond to disease outbreaks, natural or human-caused disasters or other crisis events. Both state and federal governments play a role in ensuring effective emergency public health capacity.  While states have primary responsibility for the health and safety of their residents, the federal government may supplement state resources and provide overarching capacity such as coordination, disease surveillance, biomedical research and laboratory services, health information and vaccine production capabilities. (NCSL)

Online Resources


Behind The Scene: Emergency Operations Centers

Legal Authority

Federal Legal Authority for Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response

State Legal Authority for Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response

  • Bench Books (Interactive map/list of state bench books that serve as functional practice guides/treatises for judges)
  • Social Distancing Law Project (CDC Public Health Law Program tool that walks through identifying and assessing the legal authorities in a particular state)
  • Resource on Volunteer Liability (Network for Public Health Law brief pamplet describing the various laws related to volunteer liability)

 Model Laws

  • Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (Model law drafted by the Centers for Law and the Public's Health in 2001.  State adoption of various provisions are compiled by the Network for Public Health Law in a .pdf)
  • Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners (Uniform Law Commission - Uniform law that has been treated like a model act with some states adopting in full, in part, or with modifications, and some states not adopting.)

Emergency Preparedness and Public Health - Tri-County Health Department

CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response: What's New?

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CDC Public Health Matters Blog

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