NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For months, Metro Public Health released COVID-19 patient data to first responders and law enforcement so they could keep from getting sick.
Thursday, the Metro Board of Health voted to end the controversial practice, at least for now.
"Make sure it meets the needs of all people in our community, from first responders to those worried about privacy and security," said Dr. Alex Jahangir, Chair of the Metro Board of Health.
Jahangir says Nashville Mayor John Cooper's office is working with Metro Public Health on a new database that hopefully can incorporate knowledge for front line workers and privacy for the patient.
"The new process would keep that information within a secure database in [Metro Public Health.] Only people within health who have certain access get it," said Jahangir.
Under the new system, law enforcement would still get the information they need without names or identifiable information.
"They can query the health database, saying we’re responding to 234 Main Street, is there anyone of concern there? The answer comes back yes or no, period. No names. Yes or no," he said.
The patient information would also be updated in real-time, meaning if you've recovered from the virus, your name would be taken off the list.
Jahangir is confident the Metro Board of Health will approve this new system. The only unknown is when the database will be ready.
"We’re not sure. Some people say it can be done in a week, others say within a month or two. There are technical components to it, but it has to be done right," said Jahangir.
In the meantime, law enforcement will not be able to access patient information. Jahangir says patient privacy had to be addressed as quickly as possible.