How Privacy Works in a Pandemic

What you need to know about your privacy as the coronavirus spreads.

During a pandemic like the current coronavirus outbreak, the CDC as well as state public health departments, take on remarkably broad powers.

Public health officials can detain you, force you into quarantine, and even search your phone, read your emails, and access your personal data.

So what, exactly, does this tangled web of powers actually allow public health officials to do?

Obtaining clinical specimens and data from persons affected by an outbreak; obtaining data from healthcare facilities; collecting environmental samples; protecting the privacy of personal information; and implementing and enforcing control measures, such as vaccination, chemoprophylaxis, quarantine, or even seizure or destruction of private property.


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