First Responders Have Been Given Personal Information on Virginia COVID-19 Patients for Weeks

May 13, 2020

For six weeks, the Virginia Department of Health has been allowing local health districts to release the names and addresses of individuals with COVID-19 to 911 dispatch centers. 

“The whole issue of PPE, for everyone, was an issue, and certainly, for first responders, there was a lot of concern that they might not be informed [of COVID-19 cases] or have the PPE to safely do their jobs,” said Bob Hicks, the department’s deputy commissioner for community health services.

The release of patient information to first responders is also compatible with federal patient privacy laws, which allow the release of personal health information if those workers are at risk of infection, said Sara Blose, the director of health advocacy for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society.

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