Gazebo Gazette

Healthcare facilities which followed applicable public health guidance in good faith in treating patients are now immune from civil liability for COVID-19-related lawsuits, under recently enacted legislation.

Senate Bill 3049, authored by former Senator Sally Doty, also extends protection to first responders, schools or other educational entities, non-profit organizations, and businesses.  Businesses which manufactured personal protective equipment in response to the virus are also covered.

“The last thing our hospitals and others, many of whom have employees who have put themselves at great personal risk, need is to be faced with unfounded legal claims,” Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann said. “Right now, we need our healthcare workers, businesses, and communities focused on health and safety, and recovery.”

The legislation includes a two-year statute of limitations for any legitimate claim, and backdates to March 14, 2020—the date the Governor’s original emergency declaration was issued.

The provisions do not apply where there is clear and convincing evidence of actual malice or intentional behavior.

In a public release from the Mississippi House Democratic Caucus, the party regret that the Governor did not see the wisdom of signing House Bill 658 and Senate Bill 2123 into law. These are bills that would have provided for the eligibility of parole for over 2000 inmates and help to reintegrate our regional facilities back to safely conducting their processes while immediately reducing the pressure on our underfunded and overstressed Mississippi Department of Corrections. Additionally, Senate Bill 2123 would have also made more people eligible for parole. That is all; it did not guarantee release. It only made individuals eligible to apply to a parole board made of members appointed by the Governor.

The Governor also vetoed HB 1782. Democrats sought to address an urgent problem facing Black, working-class, and impoverished communities in Mississippi and the undeniable disparate impact of Covid-19 on a large community in our state. Dr. Dobbs personally acknowledged that the effects on the poor and minority communities have been far more devastating than it has on the majority population. We proposed to fund a disparity program at the tune of six million dollars. This program would be run by Magnet Corporation, a corporation that is composed of (5) five federally qualified health centers that combined, have more than 100 years of serving the poor, underserved and uninsured in Mississippi. The Governor suggested the Health Department would be great for this disparity program but they have expressed no interest in the program.