An Illinois judge sided with a state attorney’s office that wants to require the county’s department of health to divulge names of coronavirus patients in order to protect local police officers, reports said.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Judge Michael Chmiel issued a temporary restraining order that calls on the McHenry County Department of Health to provide the names to law enforcement in the jurisdiction.
“This was a no-brainer for the Health Department, a common-sense, confidential, and entirely lawful way they could have worked collaboratively with police departments to assist in enhancing the safety of officers and the community in these dangerous times and they strangely refused,” Patrick Kenneally, the state attorney, told the paper.
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Law enforcement officials said in a statement that “the ability to provide names and addresses of McHenry County residents that have tested positive for COVID-19 has been deemed an appropriate exception to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.”
The act protects the privacy of your personal medical records.
Many on social media see the ruling as another example of the government’s overreach during the pandemic.
One Twitter user wrote, “Judge effectively suspends some HIPPA protections in Illinois for #Coronavirus patients.” Another wrote, “Good to see HIPPA laws are also something that can be suspended during a pandemic.”
Americans have increasingly spoken out against the widespread shelter-in-place orders and insist that state and local governments explain the community health benefits of impeding on their rights.
McHenry County has reported nine deaths from the virus, most linked to a residential home for adults, according to WGN 9. Dozens for employees at the Sheltered Village in Woodstock, Ill., are out sick and quarantined and 83 residents there are showing symptoms.
NBC Chicago reported that the health department initially refused to provide the data. The department must now disclose the names of those infected with the virus within 24 hours of being notified, the report said.
The report said that the department was already providing police with addresses of those infected with the virus, but not their names. The department said in a statement that there is a chance that having these names could “actually confer a false sense of security to the police, and that they should be taking extra protective steps with all people they encounter, including with colleagues.”
“In MCDH’s professional public health opinion, given what we know about how this disease spreads, the general lack of testing, epidemiological data and the stay-at-home order, providing the personal names of cases exceeds the minimum information needed to protect law enforcement,” the statement read.