Officials in at least 10 states are actively sharing the names of residents who have contracted the coronavirus with law enforcement, potentially dissuading people from reporting cases of the disease, according to a Tuesday report from The Associated Press.
A study by the AP found that officials in at least two-thirds of all 50 states are sharing addresses of infected individuals with members of law enforcement; in at least 10 states, the information also includes the name of the individual.
Tennessee, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio, North Dakota, New Jersey and South Dakota all share names of individuals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 with police, according to the AP. Wisconsin previously did as well, but has since stopped.
Privacy advocates and civil rights activists have noted that many communities, particularly those of color, have historically fraught relationships with law enforcement and thus may be dissuaded from reporting the disease to health officials as a result. Experts have already noted that the pandemic has hit minority communities at greater levels.
“The information could actually have a chilling effect that keeps those already distrustful of the government from taking the COVID-19 test and possibly accelerate the spread of the disease,” the Tennessee Black Caucus told the AP.
“Tell us how it’s working for you, then tell us how well it’s been working. Don’t just tell us you need it for your job,” added state Rep. G.A. Hardway (D), who chairs the caucus.
One lobbyist with the American Civil Liberties Union questioned why the information-sharing was necessary when many police officers are being told to expect that anyone they may come into contact with could have the disease, due to the rate of asymptomatic carriers.
“If that is a best or recommended practice, then why the need or desire to share this specific information with first responders?” Gary Daniels asked.