Most states have cut back public health powers amid pandemic

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FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021 file photo, supporters of a bill that would prohibit public and private employers from requiring vaccinations or punishing workers who don't receive them rally in favor of the legislation demonstrate outside the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. Republican legislators in more than half of U.S. states, spurred on by voters angry over lockdowns and mask mandates, have passed laws to take away powers state and local officials use to protect the public against infectious diseases. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

FILE – In this Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021 file photo, supporters of a bill that would prohibit public and private employers from requiring vaccinations or punishing workers who don’t receive them rally in favor of the legislation demonstrate outside the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. Republican legislators in more than half of U.S. states, spurred on by voters angry over lockdowns and mask mandates, have passed laws to take away powers state and local officials use to protect the public against infectious diseases. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

(AP) — A review of hundreds of pieces of legislation across the United States shows that Republican legislators in more than half of the states are taking away the powers state and local officials use to protect the public against infectious diseases.

The review conducted by Kaiser Health News, or KHN, also found that in all 50 states, legislators have proposed bills to curb such public health powers since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

While some governors vetoed bills that passed, at least 26 states pushed through laws that permanently weaken government authority to protect public health.

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