Public Health Reports is pleased to present the first edition of the online version of Law and the Public’s Health. This regular department of Public Health Reports, which explores emerging issues in public health law and policy, now will be available online prior to print publication. We are extremely grateful to be able to inaugurate this regular online offering with an editorial by four of the nation’s leading experts in public health policy and law—James Hodge, Lawrence Gostin, Dan Hanfling, and John Hick. Their editorial focuses on Ebola, the latest test of the strength and capacity of the U.S. public health system, and the legal environment in which it operates.
The Ebola crisis overseas has come ashore to the United States, resulting in a series of effective public health responses and some high-visibility errors. Although the U.S. has had only one imported case from West Africa as of October 27, 2014, several missteps in handling the case in Dallas, Texas, led to the release of an Ebola patient after initial presentation to a hospital emergency room, potential exposures of dozens of people, and the subsequent infection of two nurses. One of the nurses with symptoms was permitted to fly on commercial airliners, placing hundreds of additional Americans at some risk of infection, albeit minimal. Media coverage of the domestic “Ebola outbreak” has fueled public concerns and the naming of America’s first “Ebola Czar,” Ron Klain. The nation’s preparedness capabilities are under question. You may view the feature editorial on the Public Health Reports website here.