COVID-19 Restrictions Face Legal Challenges

Aug 9, 2020

Limiting group sizes, closing businesses, requiring face masks -- those new rules are meant to keep Virginians safe from the spread of coronavirus. But across the country those regulations have faced legal challenges. 



The law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth is keeping track of every COVID-19 -related lawsuit in the country. And it’s no small task. There are almost 4,000 of them, although Virginia’s only a small portion of that.

Credit NPR

“So the case count in Virginia currently is at 42,” says attorney Torsten Kracht, who runs the database. He says most of Virginia’s cases fall under the category of civil rights. “The biggest category under Civil Rights that we’re tracking in terms of cases in Virginia are business-closure and stay-at-home order, group-gathering challenges.” 

Cases like the gym owner in Culpepper who argued his business should have been exempt from business closures. Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring says he’s proud to have successfully defended more than a dozen challenges to COVID-19 restrictions. 

“UVA researchers said that Virginia possibly avoided more than 800,000 more COVID cases because of those mitigation efforts. And if any one of those lawsuits had been successful who knows how many of those cases that we were successful at avoiding we would have actually had,” Herring said. 

As we get closer to November Kracht predicts the next wave of COVID-related litigation will be about access to voting.

 This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.