Federal and State Actions

Federal & State Laws​

Specific Laws and Information Related to the Coronavirus Pandemic
  • Under section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S. Code § 264), the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to take measures to prevent the entry and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the United States and between states.
  • States have police power functions to protect the health, safety, and welfare of persons within their borders. To control the spread of disease within their borders, states have laws to enforce the use of isolation and quarantine. These laws can vary from state to state and can be specific or broad. In some states, local health authorities implement state law. In most states, breaking a quarantine order is a criminal misdemeanor.
  • Tribes also have police power authority to take actions that promote the health, safety, and welfare of their own tribal members. Tribal health authorities may enforce their own isolation and quarantine laws within tribal lands, if such laws exist.
  • Federal Government
    • Acts to prevent the entry of communicable diseases into the United States.
    • Quarantine and isolation may be used at U.S. ports of entry.
    • Is authorized to take measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases between states.
    • May accept state and local assistance in enforcing federal quarantine.
    • May assist state and local authorities in preventing the spread of communicable diseases.
  • State, Local, and Tribal Authorities
    • Enforce isolation and quarantine within their borders.

Statute Summary

  • Authority. The governor or the State Board of Health may proclaim a quarantine whenever deemed necessary. The Board of Health shall enforce it and adopt any necessary rules or regulations necessary to do so. The board shall also supervise county boards.

Enforcement of Quarantine (Ala. Code. Sec. 22-12-1)

  • Quarantine shall be enforced by the state, by counties and by incorporated cities and towns in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

Affidavits by persons desiring to enter or remain in certain places (Ala. Code. Sec. 22-12-9)

  • (a) Any person who makes affidavit before a quarantine officer or guard, engaged in enforcing quarantine for the protection of a place which said person wishes to enter, and who furnishes such other evidence as may be prescribed by the State Board of Health that he has not, since the appearance of a quarantinable disease then existing, been in any place against which quarantine has been legally proclaimed shall be permitted to enter, or remain in, the place to which he desires to go. Any person who has been in a place then under quarantine, by the authority of the state or by that of a county, city or town with the approval of the State Board of Health, and who has since complied with the requirements as to detention and disinfection, one or both, prescribed or approved by the State Board of Health and who shall make affidavit thereto and furnish such other evidence thereof as said board may prescribe or demand shall be permitted to enter or remain in any place in this state.
  • (b) Any quarantine officer or guard or other person who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, on conviction, shall be fined not less than $50.00 nor more than $100.00 for each offense.

Alabama “Stay At Home” Order Issued (03/19/2020)

  • WHEREAS, Code of Ala. 1975, § 22-2-2(4), authorizes the State Health Officer, on behalf of the State Board of Health, to direct that conditions prejudicial to health in public places within the State be abated;
  • Upon the effective dates and times set forth above, this Order supersedes all orders previously issued by the State Health Officer and Jefferson and Mobile County Health Officers, and shall remain in full force and effect until rescinded by order of the State Health Officer. The Jefferson and Mobile County Health Officers are authorized, after consultation with the State Health Officer, to implement more stringent measures as local circumstances require.

State Legislature Status and COVID-19

With the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country, state legislatures have seen an unprecedented stalling in activity and have been either shutting down or focusing entirely on a legislative response to COVID-19. To date, 388 COVID-19-related bills have been introduced and enacted across the country. 
Below is an interactive map on actions taken by other states and a summary of those laws.