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November 11, 2021 26 min

This episode contains strong language.

When the coronavirus hit the United States, the nation’s public health officials were in the front line, monitoring cases and calibrating rules to combat the spread.

From the start, however, there has been resistance. A Times investigation found that 100 new laws have since been passed that wrest power from public health officials.

What is the effect of those laws, and how might they affect the response to a future pandemic?

Guest: Mike Baker, the Seattle bureau chief for The New York Times. 

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Background reading: 

  • State and local public health departments have endured not only the public’s fury, but also widespread staff defections, burnout, firings, unpredictable funding and a significant erosion in their authority to impose the health orders that were critical to America’s early response to the pandemic.
  • For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily. Transcripts of each episode will be made available by the next workday. 

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