DURING PANDEMIC, A 'DELICATE BALANCE' BETWEEN PATIENT PRIVACY AND PUBLIC HEALTH

Alaska Public Media

Corrine Smith

With each new positive COVID-19 case, questions follow. How sick is the person? Do they have any underlying health conditions? How did they get it?

Legally, all of that is private. But as cases increase in Alaska, public officials, journalists and health care providers must negotiate the tensions between privacy law and the public’s need for information critical to understanding the pandemic.

Federal law protects personal health information, and that hasn’t changed during the coronavirus pandemic. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, outlines...

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