Resolution urges state to ensure patient privacy as contact tracing begins

Posted at 8:12 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 21:12:57-04

A Bossier City representative has introduced a resolution to ensure the protection of citizens' privacy as the state begins the process of contact tracing to track the spread of COVID-19.

Contact tracing is a process used by the state Department of Health in which hired tracers call individuals who have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

The tracer asks questions about your symptoms, when you got tested, and who you've been in contact with. The LDH says that contact tracers "will never identify you, share your name or your health information."

Crews' resolution directs Gov. John Bel Edwards to further ensure the "liberty and individual rights of Louisiana citizens" as the process gets underway.

WAFB reports that so far, tracers have made more than 1,500 calls.

HR44 asks that no one be penalized for refusing to participate in contact tracing, and aims to prohibit the state from tracking through mobile phone geolocation or other electronic means for the purpose of tracing. Data mining and the collection of personal data are also concerns.

The state has so far said it does not plan on doing any of the actions listed above, but Crews says he would like a more definite answer from the department.

"We really need a definite, 'We're not going to do that," Crews told WAFB. "That's what this resolution was about: assuring people that's not going to happen."

The resolution also asks for reassurance that contact tracing will not cause families to be separated or prohibit relatives from willingly interacting with one another. It also directs the governor to not impose mandatory COVID-19 or antibody testing.

LDH asks that those applying to be a contact tracer be able to protect patient data and privacy, and states that calls will be made using HIPAA compliant call centers.

Dr. Tina Stefanski says contact tracers should not ask for social security numbers, bank account numbers, or any other personal information. If they do, contact LDH.

The resolution will now head to the full House for debate.

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