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From WMOT News

Nashville still providing COVID-19 data to first responders


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Nashville’s Public Health Director said Thursday Metro will continue to alert first responders as they are dispatched to the presence of COVID-19 positive residents, even as the state moves to end the practice.

In a strongly worded statement, Dr. Michael Caldwell said alerting police, EMS and other frontline workers to the presence of coronavirus is within his authority and is helping to contain infection. Dr. Caldwell said he was, “puzzled by why the state reversed course.”

Dr. Caldwell said the information provided to first responders is carefully controlled and updated regularly. The names of virus positive residents are pulled from the list once they have recovered or their quarantine period ends.

Gov. Bill Lee this week announced he was ending the practice statewide. Lee said first responders no longer needed the advance warning because they’ve now been supplied with enough protective gear to keep them safe.

The policy received strong, bipartisan pushback from elected officials and privacy advocates. Democratic state lawmakers vowed to explore legislative and legal options to ensure the state would not divulge the private medical information of Tennesseans in the future.

WSMV quotes several Metro Nashville Council members also panning the policy. District 19 Councilman Freddie O’Connell told the station he fears the practice will have a “chilling effect” that will make it more difficult to contain the outbreak.

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