from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2020, Issue No. 4
March 23, 2020

Secrecy News Blog:


New resources from the Congressional Research Service add some depth to current news reporting on how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting and being addressed by US policy.

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COVID-19: Cybercrime Opportunities and Law Enforcement Response

"Officials have reported criminals using public interest in COVID-19 to their advantage. For instance, the Department of Justice (DOJ) cites 'reports of individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud, reports of phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and reports of malware being inserted onto mobile apps designed to track the spread of the virus'."

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COVID-19 and Passenger Airline Travel

Curtailing infectious disease spread through airline travel is challenging, in part because the passenger airline system in the United States is highly concentrated around 30 large hub airports, with tens of thousands of passengers passing through each of these airports every day.

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Federal Reserve: Recent Actions in Response to COVID-19

"The Federal Reserve has taken a number of steps to promote economic and financial stability involving the Fed's monetary policy and "lender of last resort" roles. Some of these actions are intended to stimulate economic activity by reducing interest rates and others are intended to provide liquidity to financial markets so that firms have access to needed funding."

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Federal Assistance to Troubled Industries: Selected Examples

"This report examines selected past instances in which the government has aided troubled industries, providing information about the way in which such assistance was structured, the role of Congress, and the eventual cost."

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COVID-19 and Direct Payments to Individuals: Historical Precedents

"There are historical precedents for such payments; most of these were done through the federal income tax code. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sent checks to taxpayers in 1975, 2001, and 2008."

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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Poses Challenges for the U.S. Blood Supply

"Immediate risk of blood supply collapse due to the COVID-19 outbreak is currently limited to the Pacific Northwest. However, blood drives may potentially be cancelled in other areas of the country as containment and mitigation strategies increase, which may lead to blood supply shortages in additional areas."

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COVID-19: Current Travel Restrictions and Quarantine Measures

"To date, the federal government has taken two key actions to deter persons with suspected COVID-19 infection from entering the country or spreading the virus to persons within the United States. First, the federal government has restricted the entry of many non-U.S. nationals (aliens) who recently have been physically present in mainland China, Iran, or much of Europe. Second, the federal government has imposed a quarantine requirement on all persons entering the United States, regardless of citizenship status, who have recently been to those areas. This Legal Sidebar examines the legal authorities underlying these actions, as well as possible legal challenges to their use."

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Global Economic Effects of COVID-19: In Brief

"Policymakers are being overwhelmed by the quickly changing nature of the crisis that has compounded a health issue with what could become a global trade and economic crisis whose potential effects on the global economy are rapidly growing."

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Postponing Federal Elections and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Legal Considerations

"This Sidebar reviews the legal provisions that would constrain any efforts to delay or cancel federal elections during a public health crisis or other national emergency. The first part reviews laws pertaining to presidential elections, and the second part reviews laws relevant to congressional elections."


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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