Plagues in the Nation is a narrative history of America through major outbreaks. The book examines how law and government affected the outcome of the epidemics that struck America, and how those outbreaks have in turn shaped our government. Using the story of the efforts to contain Ebola and COVID-19, Polly Price presents a fascinating history that has never been fully explored.

“A masterful book for our times, a must-read for understanding how pandemics shape law, government, and society. Price takes us on a journey through history to offer vital lessons for the future.” —Lawrence O. Goslin, University Professor and director of the WHO Center on Global Health Law, Georgetown University.

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Q&A with the Author


The Fall 2022 issue of Emory Magazine features a Q&A session with the author. In the article “What we can Learn from America’s Pandemic Responses”, Polly Price writes about the origins of her interests in the intersection of law and public health. In 2013, she worked with the CDC in El Paso, Texas, studying the inflow of tuberculosis into the US. In 2017, she received a...

Can state governors ban mask mandates in schools?


The mask wars are back, this time in the classroom. Many Americans continue to believe that they have a right not to wear face masks because they personally object to them. Some governors have stoked this belief by banning local schools from adopting mask mandates, fueling a debate about the safety of school children that has no common ground. School mask policies divide communities into two...

The Unlucky Timing of an Election-Year Pandemic


Well, it’s official. A presidential administration that left U.S. citizens to sink or swim when facing the worst pandemic in a century has finally admitted what we already knew. It has given up. Saying the quiet part out loud, White House Chief-of-Staff Meadows acknowledged the Coronavirus task force no longer even pretends to address the spread of the virus. But this is no surprise to...

A Better Response to COVID-19


Polly J. Price, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law and Professor of Global Health, Emory University The next presidential term will commence exactly one year after the first confirmed U.S. case of COVID-19. The U.S. has since recorded the highest number of COVID-19 deaths and infections in the world. Because an estimated 90% of Americans remain vulnerable to infection, the next administration...


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