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MCDH Seeks Dissolution of Temporary Restraining Order to Protect Privacy Rights
Post Date:04/15/2020 5:26 PM
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WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH), and its Board of Health, continue to be committed to the protection of the private healthcare records of the citizens of McHenry County. As such, the MCDH filed a motion Tuesday requesting Judge Michael Chmiel reconsider and dissolve the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which requires the MCDH to release the names and addresses of those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The medical community is learning new information about the COVID-19 virus daily. One of the most concerning facts about the virus is that people infected with COVID-19 may be asymptomatic. In other words they will not display any symptoms. As a result, these asymptomatic individuals can unknowingly spread the disease to others.
Under the parameters of the current TRO, the MCDH is concerned that the information provided about those positive for COVID-19 can give some first responders a false sense of security when contacting a person who is asymptomatic. For this reason the MCDH strongly agrees with and recommends that all first responders follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when contacting anyone.
The MCDH, and its Board, which includes several doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who are mandated to follow the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which focuses on protecting an individual’s private health information. Additionally, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) provides guidance to local health departments throughout the state on how to interpret and balance the disclosure of private health information with the needs of the community. HIPAA and IDPH guidance both are clear—this information will not protect our first responders, and this TRO instead needlessly erodes the public’s privacy rights.
MCDH has the utmost respect our first responders and front line healthcare workers and its staff has worked tirelessly to provide the best resources available in this fight against
COVID-19. As the public health experts for the county, we will continue to strive to protect McHenry County residents’ private health information, while balancing the safety needs of all of our professional first responders.