COVID-19 in America: Response, Issues, and Law

COVID-19 in America: Response, Issues, and Law

Included in all HeinOnline Core Subscriptions at no additional charge!

  • Find factual information about how COVID-19 has impacted public health, economics, society, and the world
  • Access hundreds of Congressional Research Service (CRS) and Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports, updated regularly as this fluctuating situation evolves
  • Discover a curated list of relevant scholarly articles and external links to supplement your COVID-19 research


2020 had barely begun when life as the world knew it was upended and redefined. Reports at the end of 2019 of a mysterious disease spreading rapidly through Wuhan, China made headlines in the United States, but were not met with alarm by the general American public. It was later determined that the disease that we now know as COVID-19 was caused by SARS-CoV-2, a coronavirus.

Initial symptoms of COVID-19 can be mild and when listed may sound nondescript or even unconcerning. But the disease can rapidly, and often without much warning, progress to severe respiratory distress that requires intubation and causes organ failure or death. It is highly contagious, spread by aerosol droplets shed through sneezing, coughing, talking, and laughing. This contagious nature has caused the disease to overwhelm hospitals, creating so many critically ill patients that hospitals have not had enough beds, supplies, and ventilators to support afflicted patients. In New York City, the original epicenter of the disease in the United States, refrigerated trucks were parked in the streets to hold the bodies of the dead because morgues could not accommodate the number of fatalities. Italy, which was ravaged by COVID-19 in the early months of 2020, had one of the highest number of active cases in the world; more than 35,000 people have died.  At the time of the creation of this database, there is no vaccine and no cure for COVID-19.

As of July 2020, there have been almost 17.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and nearly 675,000 deaths. Maintaining social distance and complying with state-issued orders to wear masks have become flashpoint political issues. As the year turns towards autumn, states across the country grapple with whether to open schools for in-person instruction and whether to require students to wear masks. 17.8 million Americans who were suddenly unemployed by the pandemic wait to see if the extra federal unemployment benefit of $600 per week will be extended past the end of July.

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While we may not know what the next months will bring in the COVID-19 pandemic, HeinOnline has launched COVID-19 in America: Response, Issues, and Law to empower its users with information.

Publications from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and Government Accountability Office (GAO) analyze the various ways COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of life, from testing issues in the medical field to unemployment and economic impact. These reports provide insight into federal response to the pandemic, discussing not only those issues that are highly prevalent in the media (for example, the process of vaccine development), but also those that may not have been considered by the casual researcher—for example, the pandemic’s effect on organ donation and transplantation, the U.S. blood supply, support for the homeless, and the implications of digital surveillance of carriers.

For ease of access, content in the database has been grouped around the areas of life in America impacted by the disease: Economics, Health, and Society. An additional subcollection entitled Global Impact has been dedicated to analyses of the pandemic’s effect on the rest of the world. Finally, an expanding curated list of related scholarly articles and external links allow researchers to take their learning beyond HeinOnline. This database, much like our understanding of the disease, will continue to evolve over the coming months and years as new content is published and integrated with regular updates.


In addition to this database, we are pleased to offer a special COVID-19 issue of Medicine and Law at no additional cost to our entire HeinOnline community. Medicine and Law is an international publication dealing with medico-legal issues, comprised of original articles, court decisions, and legislation on topics such as medical law, forensic medicine, medical ethics, and many more.

The cancellation of the 2020 World Congress on Medical Law resulted in the June issue of Medicine and Law becoming a time capsule which contemporaneously reviewed the first six months of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Within that timeframe, the journal was able to secure 17 reports from different countries and jurisdictions which, with the exception of a single report, were independently refereed and critically edited.

This overview should serve as a useful tool for those in authority, guiding individual responses to the pandemic around the world. It is a timely, constructive compilation that offers a broad spectrum of approaches, and aims to contribute to how the world deals with the present and future pandemics.