coronavirus

Judge Orders McHenry County Health Department to Turn Over COVID-19 Patient Data to First Responders

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A judge has ordered the McHenry County Health Department to disclose names of people infected with COVID-19 to first responders in the northwest suburbs, the McHenry County state’s attorney’s office announced Monday.

The temporary restraining order comes after the McHenry County state’s attorney’s office filed a lawsuit with the Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, McHenry City, and Woodstock police departments against the health department.

Prior to the lawsuit, the McHenry County Sheriff requested that the health department provided the names and addresses of people infected with COVID-19 to the county’s emergency dispatchers, prosecutors said.

The health department refused to provide the information, despite the assurances of the sheriff’s office that it would keep the patient data secure, prosecutors said.

“This was a no-brainer for the Health Department, a common-sense, confidential, and entirely lawful way they could have worked collaboratively with police departments to assist in enhancing the safety of officers and the community in these dangerous times, and they strangely refused,” State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally said in a statement.

Dr. Emily Landon is the chief infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Chicago Medicine, who moments after Pritzker issued the ordinance to take effect Saturday evening, took to the stand with a 7-minute-long speech that went viral after striking a chord for many individuals.

Following the ruling, the health department must disclose the names of those infected with COVID-19 within 24 hours of being notified.

In a statement, the McHenry County Health Department said it “believes that having the names of these patients will actually confer a false sense of security to the police, and that they should be taking extra protective steps with all people they encounter, including with colleagues.”

The health department said that it had been providing the addresses of people with COVID-19, but not their names, since that was permissible within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

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