COVID-19: Public Health, Privacy, and Law Enforcement a Precarious Balancing Act   [open pdf - 799KB]

From the Abstract: "In the wake of the COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic, the health community faces the delicate balancing act of preserving public health by containing the outbreak, while at the same time insuring that individual health information remains protected. Playing critical roles in both areas during the COVID-19 outbreak are communicable disease reporting systems. Unfortunately, barriers to and delays in sharing health data often compromise the effectiveness of disease mitigation programs. Data must be relevant, accurate, and timely, and communicable disease reporting systems are only as precise and useful as the data that is entered. This essay examines both the successes and the failures of protected health information (PHI) data sharing, reviews the laws and rules governing PHI data sharing for first responders, determines whether the need exists for real-time sharing of PHI, and offers recommendations for future implementation. In addition, it demonstrates that the health information currently available to the first responder community has led to a sense of security and confidence that is undeserved, in part because there is an absence of timely and accurate reporting of such information. Policy and legislation updates must address the needs of both government and the private sector for accurate, timely information reporting by the state's communicable disease reporting system. Health testing capabilities should be expanded and should produce accurate, timely results to accommodate the surge in testing that is necessary to identify the population's infected members."

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Retrieved From:
Homeland Security Affairs Journal: http://www.hsaj.org/
Media Type:
Homeland Security Affairs (December 2020), v.16, article 9
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