In 2018, the Wake Forest Journal of Law and Policy hosted Isolated By The Law, a symposium that explored the legal and ethical implications surrounding quarantine during public health emergencies. We didn’t realize then how significant our work and scholarship would become just 2 years later. The novel coronavirus and COVID-19 has brought modern relevance and focus to the public health issues that arise during a global pandemic. Now, more than ever we need scientists, lawyers, and public health experts to work together to navigate the pressing health and economic issues that are defining this unprecedented moment in history.

That’s why we’re responding to our 2018 symposium to deliver a fully online symposium that can be watched at your own pace. Experts from a range of disciplines will cover some of the significant issues that have surfaced as a result of the coronavirus, including the balance between public health interests and individual rights, vulnerable populations in the time of pandemic, and new public policy concerns, among other timely issues and topics.

In addition to the work and scholarship of renowned scholars, this event is brought to you by the collaborative efforts of Wake Forest School of Law and its Journal of Law & Policy and Health Law and Policy Program, as well as Wake Forest University’s Center for Bioethics, Health & Society, Office of the Provost, and Awaken: The Creative Journal of Contemporary Bioethics.

Christine Coughlin is an expert on bioethics and health law. She is a professor at Wake Forest Law with an additional appointment in Wake Forest University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, and is a core faculty member in the Wake Forest Center for Bioethics, Health & Society.


Isolated By The Law focuses on domestic and international public health policy during the global coronavirus pandemic. The legal and ethical issues of current social and economic restrictions are also discussed.

What is the role of the WHO during a global pandemic?

As the director of the Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law at the World Health Organization (WHO), Larry Gostin discusses the role of the WHO during the global pandemic. He assesses the WHO’s initial and evolving responses, the organization’s relationship with the United States, and the significance of WHO’s early public health emergency declaration.

Gostin is a professor of global health law and director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. Gostin served on two global commissions to report on the lessons learned from the 2015 West Africa Ebola epidemic.

What is the crisis standard of care?

James Hodge of the Public Health Law Network explains how the lack of a crisis standard of care inhibits coronavirus response efforts. Hodge is a law professor at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law who is an expert on emergency legal preparedness and vaccination law.

How do courts handle litigation from coronavirus?

Lindsay Wiley discusses the role of the U.S. courts during the coronavirus. Wiley is the director of the Health Law and Policy Program at American University School of Law and president of the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics.

How do we lift coronavirus restrictions?

Mark Hall, Brooking Institution nonresident senior fellow and Wake Forest Law professor, discusses the impact of coronavirus restrictions on civil liberties and public health. He is a nationally renowned scholar in health care law and public policy.

What do we know about coronaviruses?

Dr. Pat Lord talks about the biology of coronaviruses, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and COVID-19. She is a professor in Wake Forest University’s Department of Biology and its Center for Bioethics, Health & Society.

How did the U.S. respond to the coronavirus?

Mark Rothstein discusses American individualism and its impact on the coronavirus response. He is a professor of law and medicine at the University of Louisville who helped develop quarantine policies during the 2003 SARS outbreak and the 2015 Ebola epidemic.

How has immigration policy impacted the U.S. response?

Wendy Parmet, professor of law and expert on public health policy, discusses how attitudes and policies on immigration shaped the U.S. response to the coronavirus. Parmet is the director of the Center of Health Policy and Law at Northeastern University.

Are coronavirus restrictions constitutional?

Public health law expert Rob Gatter discusses the constitutionality of measures used to combat the coronavirus. Gatter is a professor at Saint Louis University’s School of Law and College for Public Health and Social Justice.

How can we ensure health justice during the pandemic?

Health justice scholar Emily Benfer talks about how coronavirus magnifies systemic inequalities. Benfer is a visiting associate clinical professor of law at Columbia Law School and the founding director of Columbia University's Health Justice Advocacy Clinic.

How can we support vulnerable populations?

Dr. Taleed El-Sabawi, mental health and addiction policy expert, discusses how vulnerable populations can be supported during the coronavirus pandemic. She is an assistant professor of law at Elon Law School and also holds a PhD in public health.

How will FDA regulate drugs and devices for COVID-19?

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expert Erika Lietzan talks about regulating new drugs to combat the coronavirus in the U.S. Lietzan is a law professor who focuses on FDA regulation and issues of intellectual property, innovation, and competition.

How is coronavirus being managed globally?

Global health policy expert Dr. Benjamin Meier analyzes the effectiveness of global health policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meier is a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law who researches human rights and global health policy.

How has the pandemic affected racial inequities?

Seema Mohapatra discusses how race and ethnicity influence pandemic responses. Mohapatra is a public health expert and professor of law at Indiana University who researches health care disparities, bioethics, and international health law, among other topics.

How will the coronavirus affect the FDA’s blood ban?

Disability and health law expert Dr. Doron Dorfman discusses the FDA’s blood donation ban and the implications of lifting restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Dorfman is a law professor at Syracuse University College of Law.

How can investigational drugs be used to treat COVID-19?

Dr. Marie-Amélie George talks about how expanded access to investigational coronavirus drugs is a remnant of the 1980s AIDS movement. Dr. George is a law professor and legal historian at Wake Forest Law who is a renowned expert on LGBTQ+ rights.

How do politics influence pandemic responses?

Dr. Sandro Galea discusses how politics can aid or hinder responses to a global pandemic. He also describes the ways different stakeholders can work together to improve health gaps. Dr. Galea is an epidemiologist and the dean of Boston University’s School of Public Health.

How does HIPAA and the ADA apply to health information?

Professors Elizabeth Pendo and Dr. Stacey Tovino talk about how HIPAA and ADA regulations apply to the COVID-19 pandemic. Professor Pendo is a law professor at Saint Louis University School of Law, and Dr. Tovino is a law professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.