The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators wants the state to quit giving names and addresses of COVID-19 patients to police.
The caucus made the request to Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Health, WATE reported, citing a press release from the caucus. Lee sent letters to Tennessee police offering to provide personal information to their departments once they’ve entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the state.
The press release said:
The Administration said the data is being made available so first responders would have the opportunity to protect themselves if they were called to an address where an infected person resides. However, Chairman Hardaway of Memphis says the information could actually have a “chilling effect” that keeps those already distrustful of the government from taking the COVID-19 test and possibly accelerate the spread of the disease.
Caucus Vice Chair Rick Staples (D-15) of Knoxville also questioned the practice, WATN said.
More thought needs to be given to the effect these practices could have on the many varied communities across Tennessee. That’s why it’s so important to have diverse representation at the table when these issues are being discussed so decisions aren’t being made that could possibly do more harm than good and possibly set us back in terms of much needed testing.
Lee made the offer to share the private information with police, the Tennessee Lookout reported, saying it had two letters.
“Health has a list of names and addresses of people in Tennessee who have tested positive or are receiving treatment for COVID-19,” a letter dated April 20 to state police chiefs said. The letter was sent by Valerie Nagoshiner, chief of state for the Tennessee Department of Health.
A total of 32 county sheriff’s offices and 35 police departments entered into agreements with the state to receive the information, the Tennessee Health Department told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Mark Yother, the police chief of Manchester, told the newspaper that the move is a way to keep police officers safe.
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Photo “Tennessee Black Caucus Chair Hardaway” by State Rep G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis).