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Business group sues to prevent naming businesses with positive COVID-19 cases

MADISON (WKOW) — The state’s largest business group sued Gov. Evers and other state officials to prevent the release of the names of businesses that have had at least two employees test positive for COVID-19.

Several media outlets have filed requests for the information, and Evers said today the state intended to comply with their requests.

“We have a legal obligation to the public to release that information,” Evers said.

However, Evers said the state didn’t intend to publish the information online. They only intended to release it to media outlets that filed freedom of information requests.

The lawsuit by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce challenges the legality of the state’s planned release of what it claims will be patient-identifiable data from the confidential patient health care records of thousands of Wisconsin citizens across the state, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the release will violate Wisconsin laws requiring any person, including government actors, to keep confidential the information contained in medical records and will wantonly damage the reputations of businesses and workers.

WMC said they learned Wednesday that Joel Brennan of the Department of Administration notified them that Evers and DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm planned to release the names of over 1,000 businesses across the State of Wisconsin that have had at least two employees test positive for COVID-19, purportedly in response to public records requests.

Defendants plan to release this information on Oct. 2, 2020, according to the lawsuit.


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