How COVID-19 Has Infected the Totality of Life (Including Law)

63 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2022

Date Written: June 14, 2022


The COVID-19 pandemic, stemming from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has shown, as if proof were necessary, that a pandemic is an inseparably biological and social phenomenon that combines interacting elements of nature, including evolution, as well as political, social, and economic forces. As such, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every sphere of human existence.

In this Article, I analyze the more important elements of this seamless web by breaking it down into a number of categories: the virus itself (and some linked phenomena) and the political, economic, and social instability that it has caused everywhere. This instability ranges from effects on forms of primary association like the family to those on forms of secondary association including education, the economy, state legitimacy, social solidarity and law in the United States and, to some extent, in other nations, and health care delivery and public health in the United States.

Pre-pandemic society in the United States was becoming increasingly fractured and polarized. In this ecology, a virus as smart and nimble as SARS-CoV-2 worked its will, seeping into everything because it fed on and exacerbated every crack and crevice; and these impacts are not linear but recursive, feeding into and amplifying one another. Instability in primary association partially feeds off of and into economic instability. Likewise, economic instability is concurrently a consequence and a cause of growing political instability. In turn, both forms partially derive from and cause the growing delegitimization of social solidarity and, in particular, the collective enterprise of public health. The latter is one reason that the United States’ capacity to respond to this pandemic and any on the horizon has been reduced. The most vulnerable among us have suffered the greatest hardship, but our society as a whole has been diminished.

Keywords: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Epidemic, Global Pandemic, Health Care, Health Care System, Health Insurance, Health Law, Health Policy, Health Politics, Pandemic, Public Health, Public Health Emergency, Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Public Health Infrastructure, United States Health Care System

JEL Classification: I10, I11, I13, I18

Suggested Citation

Frankford, David M., How COVID-19 Has Infected the Totality of Life (Including Law) (June 14, 2022). Rutgers Law Review, Vol. 74, No. 3, 2022, Available at SSRN:

David M. Frankford (Contact Author)

Rutgers Law School ( email )

Camden, NJ
United States

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