Wisconsin Supreme Court rules in favor of openness in COVID case

From mconnors on Morguefile

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled 4-3 in favor of allowing DHS to release data on businesses where multiple COVID-19 cases were reported.

The following is a statement from Bill Lueders, president, Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council:

This decision properly recognizes that the public has a right to know pandemic-related information gathered by public health authorities, whether the state’s largest business group likes it or not. 

It establishes that outside parties cannot swoop in to block the release of information that has been determined to be releasable under Wisconsin’s open records law. It affirms that the Legislature, in the so-called Woznicki fix of 2003, limited the circumstances under which suits to block release can be filed.

The decision does not open the door to the release of detailed medical information on individuals, as the dissenting opinion alleges. It merely affirms that statistical information gathered by the state about outbreaks at businesses is public information.

The minority opinion seems designed to stir up unfounded fears about the disclosure of personal medical information. In fact, all that is being released in the names of businesses and number of confirmed infections gathered as part of the state’s response to a public health crisis. To try to frighten people into believing that their most personal medical information is now open for all to see seems irresponsible.

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