For years, communist China has served as a prime example of what governments shouldn’t do when it comes to the freedom and liberty of citizens.
Now, instead of seeing the People’s Republic as a cautionary tale, 35 states are apparently using the haunting actions of the Communist Party of China as a playbook.
That’s because if you test positive for COVID-19 in this majority of states, you’ll find your name in a government database.
The shocking revelation comes as part of an Associated Press investigation published Tuesday.
The personal medical information, which includes your positive status, home address and sometimes your name, is forwarded to first responders.
Firefighters, emergency medical technicians and even police officers receive the data from local governments.
The AP found that the positive test results are relayed to dispatch offices by health departments across the country, where the information then percolates to cops and firefighters.
The report listed 10 states that share people’s names in addition to other information: Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Tennessee.
Proponents of the system say first responders need the information for their own safety. While masks are encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in all circumstances, knowingly interacting with an infected person could warrant extra precautions.
Although tracing methods can be effective in identifying and stamping out instances of COVID-19 infections, the methods being used by these states are causing some concern for citizens’ liberty and privacy.
Ending up on a government database solely for having a virus seems antithetical to American ideals millions hold dear.
This doesn’t appear to be a solely conservative issue, either.
Advocates for black and Hispanic communities worry that the information could bring unfair prejudice against their areas, and there’s even concern about what could happen if immigration enforcement officers acquire the data.
“We should question why the information needs to be provided to law enforcement, whether there is that danger of misuse,” Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told the AP.
A counterargument from those looking out for law enforcement and other first responders is that the public servants have already experienced coronavirus-related deaths in their own ranks, something agencies are now working to avoid.
“Many agencies before having this information had officers down, and now they’ve been able to keep that to a minimum,” said Maggi Duncan, executive director of the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police.
While some states erase the information completely after a set period of time, the many hands this data passes through virtually ensures some citizens’ private medical data will slip through the cracks of the bureaucracy.
With the pandemic far from over, conflicting concerns over personal privacy and public safety are sure to continue to clash.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.