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Walz executive order says 911 dispatchers will be told addresses of COVID-19 patients

It's designed to protect first responders.

Minnesota's 911 dispatchers will be told the addresses of people with confirmed COVID-19 cases as part of efforts to protest first responders from the virus.

The Executive Order 20-34 was signed by Gov. Tim Walz on Friday, and paves the wavy for the sharing of information between the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS), and 911 Dispatchers and first responders.

While the MDH has been at pains to keep the identity of COVID-19 patients hidden to protect data privacy, to the point where it's not even being revealed what cities they reside in, under the order they will be permitted to share "limited information" with 911 dispatchers and first responders.

This information will be the "addresses where a positive COVID-19 case has been identified and is still contagious," so as to protect those responding to 911 calls.

The order reads:

Minnesota’s emergency medical services personnel, law enforcement personnel, public safety workers, and other first responders (collectively, “first responders”), stand on the front lines of our COVID-19 response. These workers keep Minnesotans and their communities safe and help ensure that critical services continue to be provided—and it is imperative to protect their health and safety.

To do so, our first responders must exercise caution in light of COVID-19’s pervasive spread in our communities and the fact that only a small proportion of those infected have been or can be identified through testing. Appropriate precautions include assuming that everyone they meet may be a carrier of COVID-19, maintaining social distancing, and asking, whenever possible, whether an individual is experiencing symptoms of a fever and a cough. These measures are critically important, but we can and must do more to protect our first responders.

The order also states that there are "safeguards" in place to prevent the health department "inappropriately sharing this information beyond those who have an emergent need to know it."

Once an address no longer has a confirmed case of COVID-19, the address will be removed from DPS and 911 records.

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