Some areas of SWFL confirm FDOH is providing them with addresses of COVID-19 patients

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia
Published: Updated:
Cape Coral Police Department (WINK News)

If you test positive for COVID-19, is someone keeping an eye on your whereabouts?

Three emails from Fort Myers, Lee County and Collier County confirm that every day, the Department of Health provides addresses of coronavirus patients to law enforcement and first responders.

When the governor declared a public health emergency, he gave Florida’s health department broad power.

WINK News confirmed that power centers the addresses of COVID-19 patients.

We called sheriff’s offices and police departments to find out how they use that information. Only Cape Coral agreed to speak with us on cameral

“We’re treating everybody as if they’re a potential carrier because they are,” said Cape Coral Police Spokesman Phil Mullen. “They could be asymptomatic, we can be asymptomatic, that’s why all the PPE is critical to make sure they were protecting ourselves and protecting the people you are responding to.”

Mullen said he is not aware whether the Cape is getting specific addresses of coronavirus patients, but Lee and Collier Counties and the City of Fort Myers confirm they are getting that information.

Harvard Health Law Professor Robert Greenwald fears the list does more harm than good, considering there’s a law in place guaranteeing a person’s health information be confidential.

“My fear is that particularly vulnerable populations, immigrants, right, undocumented immigrants, there’s no way that they’ll seek screening or getting treatment if they believe their name is going to be on a list somewhere,” he said.

Greenwood and Mullen agree, keeping first responders safe starts with personal protective equipment.

“We still have to respond to majority of our calls in person, so we’re trying to maintain social distancing and the PPE while we’re doing that,” Mullen said.

Florida is one of four states where the health department is sharing addresses of coronavirus patients with law enforcement and first responders.

We asked the FDOH how it is monitoring the use of this private information, but so far, no one has gotten back to us.

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