Wapello County releases information on employer identification during COVID-19

Updated: May. 5, 2020 at 5:02 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - This afternoon, Public Information Officer for Wapello County Emergency Management Heather Severson said there have been questions about the information that can be released in regards to employer identification of positive cases of COVID-19.

Severson said in an email, “Local public health entities are working closely with the Iowa Department of Public Health on tracking and contact tracing for people who are positive for COVID-19.”

Amy McCoy, Media Relations for the Iowa Department of Public Health is also quoted in the email.

"IDPH releases very limited identifiable information related to infectious disease investigations because the Department is required by law to protect the identity of individuals and businesses involved in a disease outbreak. See Iowa Code Section 139A.3(2). The name of a business or entity involved in an outbreak can be released to the public only if the IDPH director or state medical director determines such a disclosure is necessary to protect the public. Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the state medical director, has made the following determinations regarding disclosing the identity of certain employers experiencing an outbreak:

Civilian Employers. IDPH will release the name of an employer where there has been an outbreak (10% absenteeism or 10% of workforce is a confirmed case or identified as a close contact) in a single location of an employment setting which constitutes a high-risk environment for the potential of COVID-transmission. This applies to a congregate setting in which social distancing is impossible or impracticable, including but not limited to meatpacking plants, food and beverage processing plants, factories with production lines, and warehouses."

Additionally, Lynelle Diers, Wapello County Public Health Director states, “Wapello County Public Health will continue to work closely with the Iowa Department of Public Health, county officials, businesses and health care partners to track the spread of COVID-19 in our county. We urge that citizens continue to follow preventive measures to protect themselves from infection.”

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