Midstate lawmaker urging suspension of HIPAA protections among COVID19 outbreak

Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — As of Tuesday, the only Midstate county with confirmed COVID-19 cases is Cumberland County, which has 10.

Many people have asked who these people are and where they live to see if they, themselves were possibly exposed. One of these people demanding answers includes Sen. Doug Mastriano.

Sen. Mastriano is demanding that Gov. Wolf pushes President Trump to temporarily suspend HIPAA laws for COVID19 cases, allowing health departments to release names and locations of patients.

“Failure to do this will put blood on their hands, and that’s pretty extreme, and I say that with seriousness,” says Sen. Douglas Mastriano (R-Cumberland).

The bloody hands will belong to Gov. Tom Wolf and State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, according to Mastriano. The pair has only named patients by county, following HIPAA protocol.

“We have to protect their privacy, but when it comes to a contagious disease, we should be able to know, ‘yes, this person had it,’ and so then the word will go out if I’ve had contact with him or her,” Mastriano said.

He came up with the idea after a Democratic staffer, who works in the Capitol, was tested for the virus. That person’s results are not yet in.

“My first question to the leadership was, ‘Well, who was it, because I want to know if my people were exposed to this person. Did they go to meetings together? Did they work out in the same gym? Did they eat together?'” Mastriano asked.

If they did, Mastriano said they may never show symptoms to find out.

“In the meantime, we have people walking around in gleeful bliss and not knowing they might have a contagious disease on them. So, this is common sense,” Mastriano said.

He’s asking Wolf, who frequently discusses the outbreak with Trump over the phone, to demand that federal HIPAA laws are lifted just concerning the outbreak — nothing else.

“Obviously, I’m looking out for Pennsylvania’s interest here, but if this changed, it would benefit the entire United States of America,” Mastriano said.

When asked if this could open a floodgate of privacy concerns or create panic for people who live nearby positive cases, Mastriano believes Pennsylvanians could handle it.

“We’re adults here. I know they treat us like kids. ‘Oh, wash your hands and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice.’ Thanks for that. I’m getting tired of being preached to,” Mastriano said.

Neither Gov. Wolf nor Secretary Levine’s office were immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

The Senate will briefly meet on Wednesday to vote on holding session remotely.

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