🇰🇷 The South Korean laws that got its coronavirus epidemic under control

Plenty of experts have pointed to South Korea as a better model than the US for handling the coronavirus. Their success comes, in part, from specific amendments and laws passed in the last month, according to Lawfare Blog.  

  • In 2015, South Korea reeled from the MERS epidemic: After that disease, new laws gave the government more power to collect data from citizens and to trace contacts of people who have tested positive for a virus through surveillance. Local officials are also required to share with citizens extensive information about confirmed cases. In the US, government agencies have been tight-lipped about people who have tested positive for coronavirus because of privacy laws. 

  • Coronavirus-related laws: This month, South Korea has made new laws to help it better attack the coronavirus. For instance, the government can now prosecute patients who refuse coronavirus testing, and it has made coronavirus testing free.    

Could America do this?

As mentioned in The Atlantic story above, the United States has great power during public health crises. Enforcement just takes coordination between multiple levels of government.

But Lawfare Blog’s Brian Kim notes that “constitutional instincts would inflict a high political cost, if not a legal barrier” to many of South Korea’s measures. 

The Verdict

You’re not likely to see extensive data collection or surveillance to trace who’s been in contact with people with coronavirus. For better or worse.