Administration ends practice of sharing patient information with law enforcement

    An ambulance picks up a sick patient, (Cavan/Getty Images)
    An ambulance picks up a sick patient. (Cavan/Getty Images)

    Gov. Bill Lee’s administration will stop giving daily lists of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 to law enforcement, but the sharing of private patient information continues in Tennessee’s capitol city.

    The practice of sharing patient information with law enforcement and first responders drew outrage from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, the Tennessee Black Caucus, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and others concerned about protecting privacy rights and the deterrent effect the practice could have on people in need of testing.

    The Tennessee Lookout first reported the practice of sharing personal information on May 8.

    While the state will end its information-sharing practice by the end of the month, the Metro Nashville Police Department will continue to receive patient names and addresses from the city’s health department, said Don Aaron, a police spokesperson.

    As of Wednesday, there were 5,068 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nashville, with individuals ranging in age from one month old to 100. The city is home to the largest coronavirus outbreak in the state.

    Aaron said “additional safeguards” were added on May 18. They include purging the name of persons who test positive from a MNPD databases each Monday. The “MNPD database is repopulated with currently active cases after the purse so that names of those who have recovered are not in the system,” he said.

    The addresses of person who have tested positive are purged from the city’s dispatch system every 30 days.

    “Officers are only aware of a positive case if they are dispatched to a location reflecting positivity, or if they are dealing with a specific individual who is listed as positive,” Aaron said.