Judge Forces McHenry County, Illinois Health Dept. to Provide Names of All COVID-19 Patients to Police

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The McHenry County, Illinois, Health Department (MCHD) had refused to provide the names of all coronavirus (COVID-19) patients to police – but, on Friday, Judge Michael Chmiel ruled the MCHD must do so.

The McHenry County state’s attorney’s office had sued MCHD to force it to begin supplying patients’ names to local law enforcement, prompting the judge’s ruling, The Chicago Tribune reports:

“On Friday, McHenry County Judge Michael Chmiel entered a temporary restraining order mandating that the Health Department disclose to police the names of those actively infected with COVID-19.”

“The Health Department refused to reveal the names, prosecutors stated in a news release. Health departments have typically cited privacy concern in withholding such information, specifically the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.”

“While we are compelled to provide the information,” MCDH said in a statement released Saturday, it remains the health department’s “professional health opinion” that providing patients’ identities to police is excessive:

“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.

“Five law enforcement agencies disagreed and filed suit, demanding the names of patients having tested positive. Friday evening, the court issued a temporary order to release the names. While we are compelled to provide this information, MCDH has requested the tightest control of this private medical information, whereby it will be provided only to the Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB-911) for dissemination on a call-by-call basis.”

On April 2, 2020 McHenry County posted a video to its YouTube page featuring police officers and other public servants telling residents to “Stay Home McHenry County.”

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