The Tennessee government is providing the names and addresses of COVID-19 patients to law enforcement agencies and other first responders, documents obtained by the Associated Press reveal.
According to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) obtained by the outlet, the Tennessee Department of Health is “disclosing” the information to the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, which in turn passes the information along to first responders.
“Health is disclosing to TECB a list of names and addresses of individuals documented as having tested positive, or received treatment, for COVID-19,” the memo states. “Health intends to update this list daily; after 30 days on the list, an individual’s name and address will roll off of this list.”
The document states that the Department of Health “may cease disclosure of the list upon the termination of the statewide state of emergency for COVID-19.”
The Associated Press also obtained an email sent by Brandon Gibson, Gov. Bill Lee’s senior advisor, to local mayors across the state.
“We know that first responder access to information regarding COVID-19 cases is of utmost concern,” Gibson said in the email.
“Once the MOUs are executed, the Department of Health and ECB expect the information flow to begin fairly quickly,” she added. “We ask for your patience as the process begins and please know that the health and safety of all Tennesseans is our primary goal.”
Many other states enacted similar policies after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services put out a guidance allowing states to share COVID-19 patient info with law enforcement. Tennessee, however, never publicly announced the arrangement.
Gov. Lee briefly discussed the matter in a comment provided to the Associated Press Friday.
“We know that first responders are required to, and law enforcement required to, come in contact with these people as part of their job, and that’s why Health and Human Services gave that guidance to states, and that’s why we’re implementing that,” said Lee.
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