San Francisco Still Prioritizing Fighting Stigma Rather Than Coronavirus
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From the New York Times:

How Much Should the Public Know About Who Has the Coronavirus?

Amid calls for more transparency, a debate is raging among public health experts over how much data on the spread of the virus should be released.

Thomas Fuller, March 28, 2020

… Across the United States there is even less consistency. New York is listing cases by age bracket, gender and borough despite calls for more localized reporting. Connecticut lists data by town. Florida provides its residents with a wealth of data on the pandemic. The state’s Department of Health has a detailed dashboard and reports showing the spread of the virus — rich with data on the cities affected, the number of people tested, the age brackets of patients, whether they are Florida residents, and the number of cases in nursing homes.

Health departments in the Bay Area make the case that releasing more granular data could heighten discrimination against certain communities where there might be clusters. The first cases in the Bay Area were among ethnic Chinese residents returning from trips to China.

“Pandemics increase paranoia and stigma,” said Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, the deputy health officer of Contra Costa County, across the Bay from San Francisco, which provides only the total number of cases in the county on its website. “We must be extra cautious in protecting individuals and the community.”

In Santa Clara, health officials say they cannot disclose how many cases are found in each city because of the nation’s strict medical privacy law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

But that law was designed for the protection of personal data at doctors’ offices and in hospitals and includes provisions for the release of otherwise protected information during emergencies.

Using the law as a justification for limiting the release of aggregate data about the coronavirus is “ridiculous,” according to Arthur L. Caplan, a professor of bioethics at the N.Y.U. School of Medicine in New York City. …

The U.S. approach contrasts sharply with that of Singapore and Taiwan, whose fights against the virus have been praised as among the most effective. Both governments make public the suspected linkages of cases, anonymized by numbers. In Singapore the authorities sometimes list neighborhoods where patients lived, their workplaces and churches or mosques that they attended.

The irony is that this turned out to be spread less (initially) by The Marginalized and more by skiers, tourists, international business travelers and other versions of The Privileged.

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