Kearney- Two Rivers Public Health Department has received multiple requests to share information with dispatchers, emergency responders, and law enforcement about positive COVID-19 patients. After thoughtful discussion, input from multiple public members, and deliberations, the Two Rivers Public Health Department Board of Health has made a policy decision to not release protected health information. TWO RIVERS PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT will continue to perform contact tracing with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, and provide recommendations about when an individual is able to complete isolation. Operating on a good faith belief, TWO RIVERS PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT honestly and sincerely does not believe the disclosure of confidential information will prevent or lessen imminent threat to first responders or the public.
“We strongly encourage individuals who are experiencing COVID-like symptoms to report these symptoms when utilizing emergency services. Likewise, we encourage any person experiencing illness to stay home and limit contact with others,” states Jeremy Eschliman, Health Director at Two Rivers Public Health Department.
Some identified concerns are:
- Only lab-positive cases are shared with TWO RIVERS PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT and tracked by the organization, which is known to be a small percentage of contagious individuals based on current research, investigations, and other data.
- Cases in which the individual is solely diagnosed by a medical professional, and not lab-tested, are not shared with TWO RIVERS PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT or tracked
- There is no timeframe for recovered COVID-19 cases to ‘fall off’ of the list, leading to lasting stigma
- There are a tremendous number of asymptomatic positive cases
- There are individuals who choose to self-quarantine due to symptoms associated with COVID-19, without ever seeking testing or diagnosis, and which would not be shared with TWO RIVERS PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT or tracked.
- In addition, TWO RIVERS PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT is operating at maximum capacity currently, and creating a new reporting system would significant decrease needed resources for contact tracing.
TWO RIVERS PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT continues to advise that emergency responders use universal precautions on ALL calls to best protect themselves. TWO RIVERS PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT had provided significant stocks of PPE to emergency responders throughout the district with this in mind.
For more information call Two Rivers Public Health Department at (888) 669-7154 or visit www.trphd.org.
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