“An Associated Press review of those states found that at least 10 states also share the names of everyone who tests positive.”
A review by the Associated Press found that public health officials “in at least two-thirds of U.S. states” are sharing the addresses of people who confirmed to have the coronavirus with first responders.
Widespread disclosure of who has tested positive is said to be intended to protect medical workers and first responders from exposure, but the practice sparks concerns involving racial profiling, privacy, and security.
At least 10 states share the names of everyone who tests positive, reports the AP:
Sharing the information does not violate medical privacy laws, under guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Law enforcement officials say the information helps them take extra precautions to avoid contracting and spreading the coronavirus.
But civil liberty and community activists have expressed concerns of potential profiling in African-American and Hispanic communities that already have an uneasy relationship with law enforcement. Some envision the data being forwarded to immigration officials.
In Tennessee, the issue has sparked criticism from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers who only became aware of the data sharing earlier this month.
“The information could actually have a ‘chilling effect’ that keeps those already distrustful of the government from taking the COVID-19 test and possibly accelerate the spread of the disease,” the Tennessee Black Caucus said in a statement earlier this month.
Many members of minority communities are employed in industries that require them to show up to work every day, making them more susceptible to the virus — and most in need of the test.
The AP review shows that public health officials in at least 35 states share the addresses of those who have tested positive for the coronavirus — provided by the state or local health departments to first responders who request it. In at least 10 of those states, health agencies also share their names: Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Tennessee. Wisconsin did so briefly but stopped earlier this month.
Read more at the Associated Press:
COVID-19 data sharing with law enforcement sparks concern
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