The spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is unprecedented, and it will take many of us working together and utilizing our collective expertise to respond appropriately, effectively, and fairly. The ACLU of Florida will be monitoring the situation to ensure a response that is scientifically justified and no more intrusive upon civil liberties than absolutely necessary. In particular, we will provide guidance to our elected officials on crafting a response that protects the populations most vulnerable to harm, including working people, immigrants, and those involved in the criminal legal system.
Here you will find information about the ACLU’s response to COVID-19, including news updates, blog posts, guidelines, and letters to public officials—as well as other resources. Above all, the ACLU of Florida believes:
- Any coronavirus response should be grounded in science and public health, and not be politicized
- Any response plan must protect the health, safety, and civil liberties of all
- State leaders should encourage voluntary compliance with self-isolation measures as much as possible
- If leaders want to be effective in limiting the transmission of coronavirus, they will need to pay particular attention to the most vulnerable people in our society
People in jail are highly vulnerable to outbreaks of contagious illnesses. State and local law enforcement including the attorney general, district attorneys, and local police should reduce the number of people in state custody in order to prevent the virus from entering a prison or jail.
Nobody should be afraid to seek medical care for fear of immigration enforcement. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has stated that it does not conduct enforcement operations at medical facilities, except under extraordinary circumstances. In addition, ICE should halt immigration detentions to limit the spread of the virus in jails and detentions centers and to limit the hardships that the virus causes for immigrant communities.
It is now even more critical that we make it as easy as possible for all eligible voters to vote by mail in 2020, and prepare for a likely surge in absentee ballots. To diminish risk and protect our elections, state and county elections officials should make vote-by-mail ballots available to all voters. We should also eliminate arbitrary voter registration deadlines and extend early voting across the state. In Florida, we must allow voters to register and vote even on Election Day, as many other states allow.
We will update this page as the situation develops. See below for more resources.