The coronavirus is still rampant in our country rendering an average of 96,275 new cases per day, and legislatures are attempting to stop the spread by any means necessary. One of the most recent innovative ideas by some state lawmakers is to emphasize the use of wearing masks by eliminating the sales tax on the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), and the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) recently announced that hackers have been and will continue to target the United States hospitals and health-care providers. These attacks are cyber in nature and often lead to ransomware attacks, data left, and inevitable disruption of health care services when patient information is locked until the ransom can be paid.
Sports betting is now just as easy as opening up an app and playing a game on your phone. But should it?
Of course not. Sports gambling, with the potential to waste away thousands of dollars, should feel more like gambling at a casino than making a few clicks on a phone.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) effectively outlawed sports betting nationwide. However, in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Supreme Court struct down PASPA, launching the phrenzy towards nationwide legalization. Sports betting is fully legal and operational in 18 states in addition to Washington D.C. with the possibility of 13 more states joining the national trend by the end of 2021.
In June 2019, Governor Pritzker signed the Sports Wagering Act into law, ushering in legal sports gambling in Illinois. The law initially required users to submit applications for sports wagering services in person. However, due to the pandemic Governor Pritzker issued several Executive Orders suspending this requirement through at least November 14. With the pandemic still in full swing, there is little reason why this suspension will not be extended again.
Twitter made the news once again yesterday after removing a tweet by Dr. Scott Atlas, one of President Trump’s main White House Coronavirus advisors. The tweet, which questioned the effectiveness of wearing masks in combatting the virus, was said to have violated a policy on misleading information relating to COVID-19.
This comes just days after Twitter was criticized for “limiting sharing” of a New York Post article because it exposed private information (read: personal email addresses) and contained material obtained through hacking.
Allegations that big tech companies are guilty of “censoring” information on their social media platforms are far from new. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2018 revealed that 72% of the public thought that social media platforms actively censored political views. Results from this year’s version of the same survey found roughly the same results.
Even the President has waged a war against Twitter. His criticisms of Twitter for “silencing conservative viewpoints” escalated to threats of “shutdowns” or at least heavy regulation in response to the site adding a fact-check warning to tweets that claimed that “mail-in ballots are fraudulent” without any evidence. Not long after, Trump signed an executive order attempting to punish social media companies.
On October 13, 2020 Earthjustice filed a petition for review with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of a coalition of environmental groups and scientists asserting that a Final Rule promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) failed to adequately regulate certain carcinogenic emissions as required by the Clean Air Act. The Miscellaneous Organic Chemical Manufacturing (“MON”) rule, effective as of August 12, 2020, regulates toxic emission of about 200 chemical plants which release dangerous carcinogens including ethylene oxide which have been shown to be contributing to cancer hotspots around the country. However, the petitioners contend that the final MON rule fails to properly regulate unacceptable levels of risk posed by ethylene oxide and the other carcinogens released by MON facilities.
Covid-19 has not only damaged the health and physical well-being of those stricken by the potentially deadly coronavirus, but it has also ravaged the livelihoods and financial stability of many millions more people around the world. The virus spread across the U.S. with incredible speed as more than 100,000 people had already been infected by early March. In many ways the unexpected and quick arrival of the pandemic caught many households financially unprepared and ill-equipped to survive the economic shutdown unscathed. For those that have experienced rent hardship and have, or will soon, be subject to an eviction for non-payment of rent, they must recover not only from the short-term challenges of finding shelter and putting their lives back together, but also the long-term struggle of finding suitable housing with an often disqualifying and indelible mark on their rental history.
As COVID-19 is back on the rise throughout the United States and various vaccine trials are occurring, employers are beginning to consider COVID-19 vaccine mandates for all their employees. While no vaccine has been approved yet, predictions point to a possible release by the end of the year. The vaccine is not expected to be readily available until mid-2021 for the general public, which makes it difficult for most employers to mandate vaccination at least until 2021. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has yet to release guidance on COVID-19 vaccine so it is best to consider guidelines discussing flu vaccines for now. Although there are necessary accommodations due to federal legislation, vaccine programs are permissible.
When Governors around the United States initially provided COVID-19 regulations to restaurants and other businesses, it was relatively warm outside. Outdoor dining was easily accessible throughout the summer and outdoor dining continues to be especially crucial in order to accommodate for social distancing. In Chicago, Illinois, the city has closed off streets in order for restaurants to expand tables into the road to make room for more customers while continuing to abide by health and safety regulations. However, with the cold winter weather fast approaching, restaurants will be forced to adapt in order to stay in business. As of mid-September, only six months into the pandemic, 100,000 restaurants have closed on a permanent or long-term basis in the United States.
The new Title IX regulations that were introduced by the Department of Education (the Department) in May are officially in effect and require school districts to implement multiple changes in their Title IX compliance practices. Title IX explains that educational programs and activities receiving federal funding from the Department must not act in a discriminatory manner on the basis of sex. These new regulations extend many new protections against sexual harassment, and aim to protect the rights of students, mainly their right to due process. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools are challenged with implementing these new regulations while navigating the obstacles brought by the virus.
The use of fracking has made the United States the global leader in natural gas and crude oil production. However, the practice is not without controversy. Activist groups have called for a ban against fracking as scientists have warned of potential health and environmental impacts, while energy lobbyists have fought bitterly against any restrictions or regulations. As it stands, U.S. regulating of fracking has been mostly left ineffectively to the states, with exemptions to federal regulations on the books. As the societal costs of fracking become better understood, regulators and policy makers must make difficult decisions regarding the practice.