Transparency Hindered By Laws
One of the things we talk about during our media training sessions is to be truthful when dealing with the media and other stakeholders.
Sometimes the law prevents that.
With COVID-19 spreading around the world, it would sure be nice when there are media reports about cases, or even deaths, if specifics could be provided. But for “privacy reasons,” we’re left mostly in the dark.
Recently, basic information about COVID-19 cases in Arizona zip codes was released, but we still hear “further details aren’t available to protect the individual’s privacy.”
Does that help in the fight against an infectious disease? It’s on the scale between “maybe a little” to “not in the slightest.” But it’s the law.
You see, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) created national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.
At a time like this, it would sure be helpful to know if your next-door neighbor had COVID-19 — even if they didn’t want you to know about it.