Board of Directors Will Not Release City-by-City Data
(NOBLESVILLE, APRIL 6, 2020)
The Hamilton County Health Department’s Board of Directors has decided not to release city-by-city data of patients who test positive to the COVID-19 virus.
“We understand the public’s desire to know how our cities and towns are faring in the war against this virus,” says County Health Officer Dr. Charles Harris. “But we must adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). If we don’t, we could incur hefty fines for each and every infraction.”
HIPAA provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding personal health information. After discussing patient privacy with the Indiana State Department of Health and the State’s Office of Public Affairs, the Hamilton County Health Department’s Board of Directors has decided to keep identifiable information to a minimum.
“You may see larger, more congested cities around America releasing city-by-city data, but we simply cannot do that here,” Dr. Harris explains. “Imagine for example, if we were to announce a COVID-19 related death in Arcadia and that was followed by an obituary in Arcadia the following day. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who had been infected.”
The Health Department does share a county-wide heat-map displaying positive COVID-19 cases with police, EMS, and firefighters from each of the cities and towns during a daily meeting with Emergency Management.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tammy Sander
Phone: (317) 517-9520