AG Grewal Issues Directive to Law Enforcement on Appropriate Use of COVID-19 Information from Public Health Officers

TRENTON—Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today issued a directive to law enforcement officers across New Jersey to provide clear guidance on appropriate use of information from local public health officers about positive COVID-19 tests in order to safeguard the health of officers while also protecting the privacy of those who are ill.

Over the last number of days, law enforcement agencies raised concerns with the Attorney General about the need for limited information regarding addresses where an individual has tested positive for COVID-19, to better ensure that officers can appropriately protect their health and safety when responding to calls at those addresses. To address these concerns, the Attorney General’s office immediately engaged with the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH). In response, on March 18, 2020, DOH issued a memorandum to all local public health officers instructing them to share such limited information about addresses where an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 (but not the names of any individual), as authorized by the State’s Emergency Health Powers Act, but at the same time restricting the use and dissemination of that information.

Our police officers are courageously stepping up to protect the public—faced with the coronavirus as well as the ever present dangers of their jobs—and they deserve all the help we can offer to keep them healthy,” said Attorney General Grewal. “By alerting officers as to these risks, we enable them to guard their own health and make the best possible use of our limited supplies of personal protective gear. Make no mistake, our officers will respond to every call for service, regardless of the threat, but this directive and the Department of Health’s memo will ensure that they are better prepared to keep everyone safe, and that they fully maintain the confidentiality of those who are ill.

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