Can the Government Take Away Our Freedom of Movement and Expression? Personal Responsibility and Government Intervention in Public Health Crises

I’m trying to study for my Management course and I need some help to understand this question.

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) or a pandemic. The emergence and rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have created unique challenges for governments throughout the world and particularly so in the United States. Following the WHO’s announcement, U.S. federal and state agencies have similarly declared health emergencies to mitigate and slow the spread of the virus. Most states issued stay-at-home orders for their residents, with few exceptions for essential workers or special circumstances. Public and private agencies, businesses, and educational institutions, were ordered closed. Inbound international travel was largely suspended and interstate travelers were ordered to self-quarantine on arrival. Group gatherings of more than 10 people were prohibited. Recreational and entertainment venues and events were shut down.

This unprecedented and broad set of restrictions imposed upon the U.S. society and citizenry has been met with different reactions, from full support to public demonstrations and political opposition. This situation brings up a complex ethical dilemma, namely the role of government in public health crises and in safeguarding the public’s health. What role should the government play in mandating restrictions on individual behaviors? Should public interest trump individual liberties afforded to U.S. citizens? What is the right balance between personal responsibility and individual choices with respect to social behaviors?

Imagine that you work for your state’s Department of Health and have been asked to draft a brief on the ethical issues related to a statewide stay-at-home order and shut-down of all public activities. Read the articles suggested for this lesson. Research (in retrospect) what your state has done in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. Compare and contrast that with approaches taken by other states, as well as the federal government. You do not need to come out on one side or another; simply address as many ethical considerations as you can think of. It probably would be easiest to address them from a pro and con standpoint—in other words, what ethical arguments favor or oppose such measures? Think about the implications of these orders on different stakeholders. What are the ethical arguments in favor of and against state governments taking the lead in public health crises vs. some other entity, such as individuals, hospitals, or the federal government?

my state will be WASHINGTON STATE

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