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Is COVID-19 Already Here?

At some point over the last few weeks you may have heard that the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is already in Brookings. Maybe it was someone who came back from a vacation, someone traveling for a local manufacturer or a teacher. The fact of the matter is we may never really find out if those stories are true and that is upsetting to say the least.

How can something as important as an infected citizen be kept from the public? It’s elaborately, simple! HIPAA.

HIPAA: The acronym that stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a United States law designed to provide privacy standards to protect patients’ medical records and other health information provided to health plans, doctors, hospitals, other health care providers and to the media unless either (1) the patient or their personal representative authorizes the disclosure, or (2) the disclosure fits within a HIPAA exception.

Social Media included. The HIPAA Privacy Rule prohibits the use of Protected Health Information on social media networks. … PHI can only be included in social media posts if a patient has given their consent, in writing, to allow their PHI to be used and then only for the purpose specifically mentioned in the consent form.

HIPAA Rules and Regulations lay out three types of security safeguards required for compliance: administrative, physical, and technical. For each of these types, the Rule identifies security standards, and for each standard, it names both required and addressable implementation specifications.**

You may have heard Governor Noem say, “but we also have to notify the lab which the sample came from and that lab has to take action to let the patient know their test results before I have the freedom to share it with the public.”

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was put in place for our protection, but in times like these it’s not really the kind of protection we are looking for.

For the record, the Kennedy–Kassebaum Act or HIPAA was enacted by the 104th US Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996.*

Visit the Health and Human Services website to learn more.

*wikipedia  **health and human services

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