Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Can U.S. Cities Be Forced To House Coronavirus Patients?

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown - February 25, 2020 at 09:30AM

The city of Santa Ana is taking California to court over plans to move coronavirus patients into a state-owned facility there. The matter was heard by a federal judge on Monday after the federal government said U.S. coronavirus patients had to evacuate the Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, where they are now being housed.

"In a decision that could complicate California's efforts to deal with the coronavirus crisis, Judge Josephine L. Staton…kept a temporary restraining order in place that would prevent the infected patients from being moved to Costa Mesa, at least for now," The New York Times reports.

Staton told state and federal authorities to present her with more public safety information at a March 2 hearing. "The state has shown great empathy for the patients," she said in the courtroom, and she hoped it would show "the same empathy for the residents of Costa Mesa," which is California's second-most populous county.

U.S. authorities had first planned to transfer patients from the air force base to a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) facility in Alabama. "But officials in California thought that moving the group out of the state…would be detrimental to their health and well-being," the Times reports.

There are now 53 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S.

Confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to rise in China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and elsewhere:

Worldwide, at least 80,067 confirmed coronavirus cases are being reported, with at least 2,700 deaths so far.

Politicians and investors have both begun panicking. "Major European stock markets were about 0.8 percent lower Tuesday," and "the Dow Jones industrial average shed more than 1,000 points" yesterday, noted The Washington Post. But "global markets mostly stabilized after Monday's heavy losses."

President Donald Trump is asking Congress to authorize $2.5 billion in spending to deal with the disease. Trump said at a forum in New Delhi yesterday that the money would be used for "getting everything ready just in case something should happen and also helping other nations that really aren't equipped to do it."


FREE MINDS

The U.S. Supreme Court will weigh in on whether Philadelphia can cancel a contract with a Catholic foster care agency that refuses to place children with same-sex couples. SCOTUS agreed on Monday to hear the case (Fulton v. Philadelphia), in which the agencyCatholic Social Servicesargues that the contract cancellation amounts to religious discrimination. Philadelphia says the religious nonprofit is in violation of its nondiscrimination policy.

"Over the last few years, agencies have been closing their doors across the country, and all the while children are pouring into the system," said Lori Windham, a senior lawyer for Becket Fund, which is representing Catholic Social Services. "We are confident that the Court will realize that the best solution is the one that has worked in Philadelphia for a centuryall hands on deck for foster kids."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is siding against the foster agencies. Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU's LGBT project, condemned "allowing foster care agencies to exclude qualified families based on religious requirements that have nothing to do with the ability to care for a child."


FREE MARKETS

Apple and TikTok are refusing to participate in Sen. Josh Hawley's (R–Mo.) anti-tech pageantry on Capitol Hill. Both declined Hawley's request to testify at a hearing next month on Apple and TikTok's ties to China. "Hawley still plans to hold the March hearing, where U.S. law enforcement officials are set to testify," reports The Washington Post.

"TikTok in particular has drawn bipartisan congressional scorn and sparked a national security probe into its origins," notes the paper. "Branches of the U.S. military recently have barred service members from using the app on their official phones, fearing security risks. And the Transportation Security Administration this weekend said it would stop allowing its employees to use the app."


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