If you test positive for COVID-19, your result doesn’t simply stay with the health department. Positive results are sent to the Ohio Department of Public Safety and entered into LEADS, the Law Enforcement Automated Data System.
LEADS is used to alert officers of arrest warrants, protection orders, stolen vehicles, CCW permits – and COVID-19.
Gov. Mike DeWine’s Press Secretary Dan Tierney said HIPAA laws don’t apply to COVID testing.
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a US law designed to provide privacy standards to protect patients’ medical records provided to health plans, doctors, and other health care providers, does not apply to COVID-19 in this situation, according to the press secretary.
“This is valuable information for first responders,” said Tierney. “The purpose is to protect first responders from a highly infectious, airborne disease.”
A “hit” is received alerting of your COVID-positive status when your name, address, drivers license or plates are entered, notifying law and emergency personnel to use personal protective equipment.
This system has been in place since May 21, according to Kristen Castle , ODPS director of communications. Castle said the information stays in the system for 30 days.
An order signed by former Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton on April 14 called for preventing the exposure to first responders.
Although the order was apparently intended for protection of law and emergency personnel, it’s possible you could be charged if your local health department ordered you to quarantine and you are found in public, according to Tierney.
Ohio Statehouse News was contacted anonymously by a Central Ohio dispatcher who made us aware of the statewide COVID alert that many Ohioans were not aware was in use.
A “COP” (Caution Ohio Police) is entered into LEADS for positive cases, explained the dispatcher.
“We as dispatchers are advised to look at the date of the test in the COP Alert, if that has been within the last 14 days, to advise the officer of a ‘possible infectious condition’ or PIC,” the dispatcher said.
“However many municipalities have attached criminal penalties to violation of mask ordinances and not adhering to DeWine health orders do carry criminal penalties under the Ohio Revised Code. So it would or could be up to the officer.
“I will say that any department that I work with has gone above and beyond to communicate with their officers that they emphasize education over enforcement and it is not hard to read between the lines to see that enforcement is really the absolute last, last resort.”
The dispatcher said many local law enforcement agencies are not doing anything with mask or social distancing complaints either, they are clearing the calls as information only and not responding.