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FCC Clarifies COVID-19 TCPA Emergency Purposes Declaratory Ruling

a woman donating blood

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a public notice yesterday clarifying the scope of the commission’s March 20, 2020 Declaratory Ruling about the “emergency purposes” exemption to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)  as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic. The clarification is in regards to calls about plasma donation.

In the March 20 declaration, the FCC confirmed that the COVID-19 crisis constitutes an emergency under the TCPA and that “hospitals, health care providers, state and local health officials, and other government officials may lawfully communicate information about the novel coronavirus as well as mitigation measures without violating federal law.”

The initial declaratory ruling interpreted the “emergency purposes” exemption narrowly, limiting it to purely information calls and stipulating that “the caller must be from a hospital, or be a health care provider, state or local health official, or other government official as well as a person under the express direction of such an organization and acting on its behalf. “

The recent public notice clarifies that this exemption applies to “calls and text messages made by or on behalf of commercial labs, health insurers, physicians, and pharmacies (health care entities) that, pursuant to guidance from federal, state, or local government officials, communicate with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 to provide them with information regarding donating their plasma after recovering.”