Issuing a COVID-19 Press Release That Identifies a Specific Location

GuidanceHealth Data Sharing and Privacy

August 14, 2020
by Peter D. Jacobson

A county health department seeks guidance on whether the department can issue a press release indicating that individuals who attended a party on a specific date at a specific address may have been exposed to COVID-19. As explained in detail below, there are no legal barriers to issuing the proposed press release. Instead, this is a policy question within the health department’s discretion.

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Physician Liability for COVID-19 Testing

GuidanceHealth Data Sharing and Privacy

August 14, 2020
by Peter D. Jacobson

A public health physician is seeking clarification of his/her duties in light of Michigan Governor Whitmer’s Emergency Declaration (Executive Order 2020-104) to increase COVID-19 testing. Does testing for COVID-19 establish a physician-patient duty to patients for whom a physician orders or conducts a test? Is it legally permissible to order these tests when no assessment is made on the tested patients? As explained in detail below, the answer to the first question is that Michigan law imposes a limited duty, but with immunity from personal liability. The answer to the second question is yes.

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