Wisconsin Judge Nixes Release Of Employer COVID Data By The State
The State of Wisconsin suffered another setback in its mission to release employer COVID-19 data to the general public. The decision temporarily suspends the states plan of releasing the names of all employers that had two or more COVID-19 positives - going back as far as May.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers says that the release of this information is prudent - according to news sources. "We have an obligation to the public to obey the law in that area and we will be releasing (that data) to the people in the media that have asked for that information in the very near future". Evers suggests that the state has received numerous open records requests for the data.
A Waukesha County judge blocked those efforts in response to a lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce in partnership with the respective chambers of commerce from Muskego and New Berlin. The WMC stated that the "revealing that information would violate the privacy of COVID-19 patients. The statutes make it clear that if you release the name of a patients employer, that allows for that patient to be identified. That is a violation of that patient's privacy rights".
In addition to the privacy concerns for individual patients, the WMC is also concerned about economic and reputation impacts for the businesses themselves - stating that the release could "....falsely create the impression that the businesses at issue are somehow dangerous". They also point out that Evers had previously been against the release of the COVID-19 information about employers.