In 2007, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the Social Distancing Law Project (SDLP) to assist states in conducting an assessment of their legal preparedness to implement social distancing measures in both declared and undeclared public health emergencies (e.g., pandemic influenza).
The purpose of the project was to determine the legal preparedness of jurisdictions to address a public health emergency through social distancing measures, such as restricting the movement of persons (e.g., isolation, quarantine, closure of public places), as well as to accept federal assistance or provide support for federal efforts to institute such measures. The project was developed to ensure the presence of effective legal authorities for social distancing measures, to establish and sustain the competencies of public health professionals to apply those laws, to provide coordination of such efforts across jurisdictions and sectors, and to make accessible information about best practices.
Virginia was one of 18 jurisdictions (that either host CDC quarantine stations or border jurisdictions with quarantine stations) that were eligible to participate. Phase I of the project was for each jurisdiction to identify and assess the sufficiency of their legal authorities to implement social distancing measures and issue blanket prescriptions in the event of a public health emergency, and identify any gaps or uncertainties in those authorities. This was completed in July 2007.
As one of 13 jurisdictions with federal quarantine stations, Virginia was also eligible to hold a Legal Consultation Meeting (LCM). This one-day tabletop exercise was planned to involve key legal preparedness stakeholders to work through scenarios that incorporated social distancing measures. Virginia’s LCM was held on October 9, 2007, in Richmond, Virginia.
The results of the Virginia Social Distancing Project, a combined effort of the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Office of the Attorney General, are provided.
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