JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann announced healthcare facilities, which followed applicable public health guidance in good faith in treating patients, are now immune from civil liability for COVID-19-related lawsuits.
Senate Bill 3049, authored by former Senator Sally Doty, also extends protection to first responders, schools or other educational entities, non-profit organizations and businesses. Businesses, which manufactured personal protective equipment in response to the virus, are also covered.
Hosemann said he feels the law was necessary.
“We need to have some comfort when we were asking people to step out of their normal sandbox and make masks when they used to make blue jeans or making hand sanitizer when they used to make vodka. We needed to give them that protection, and I thought it was appropriate to do that,” Hosemann explained.
But not all legislators thought the law was necessary. State Senator Derrick Simmons said the law is too protective of businesses and not citizens.
“An OBGYN could see a female patient, and it may be an action of omission where that OBGYN may have caused injury to a female patient. Will that doctor be covered under this bill? And based on this direct and indirect language in this bill, yes, even though they never saw those patients for COVID-19,” said Simmons.
Simmons believes the law will cause confusion and could keep some from taking proper precautions.
“People may feel like we granted this big absolute immunity bill, so there is no reason for me to follow the CDC guidelines or follow those safe guards to make people safe. So that was one of my biggest concerns about the bill, that it was completely unnecessary. And I just didn’t want to pass another bill to create confusion in the law in Mississippi,” stated Simmons.
The law is expected to expire one year after the end of the COVID-19 State of Emergency.