Rep. Mueller Urges Local County Health Departments To Protect First Responders From COVID-19
Bipartisan effort aims to curtail further spread of the virus
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, March 31, 2020
CONTACT: Rachel Doane, office: (517) 373-1588, cell: (616) 808-1889
State Rep. Mike Mueller, of Linden, has issued letters to county health departments in his district urging them to update their practices to ensure the safety of local first responders when entering a home.
The letters, part of a bipartisan effort, came after Rep. Mueller learned from local police chiefs that some counties are not disclosing the names or addresses of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 to their county central dispatch units, despite a recent letter issued by the attorney general’s office clarifying that the practice is not in violation of HIPPA regulations.
Mueller argues disclosing health information related to COVID-19 is best practice for ensuring first responders do all they can to protect themselves when responding to the needs of contagious residents.
“First responders are on the frontlines of this pandemic, and we can look to Wayne County and the city of Detroit to see the devastation COVID-19 has caused,” said Mueller, a retired Livingston County Sheriff’s Deputy. “We cannot afford to let this happen in other counties across the state.”
“Sadly, many of our officers have tested positive in the city of Detroit, and have even died on the frontline fighting this disease,” said Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit). “All first responders deserve a fighting chance while they are sacrificing their lives and the lives of their families serving our communities. Providing them with this information is the least we can do when many of them are still working around the clock without the protective gear needed to prevent contracting this deadly disease.”
“Our individual right to privacy will not be impeded upon, as this information simply serves as an indicator to proceed with caution,” Gay-Dagnogo added. “This is certainly a worthy premium to help inform and protect first responders throughout the State of Michigan.”
Also supporting Mueller in the fight to update practices is Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, who is working with the representative to rectify the issue.
“Protecting our first responders is a priority,” McCormack said. “They can’t work at home–instead they are risking their own health and safety and that of their families every day. I am grateful for Representative Mueller and Attorney General Nessel’s work on this important issue.”
Mueller has also spoken with Sheriff Mike Murphy of Livingston County, who noted that the sheriff’s department has been working with county health officials in Livingston County to protect first responders.
“This was standard practice when I was a deputy,” said Mueller. “We were made aware of individuals with certain ailments when responding to emergencies and it allowed us to be properly prepared.”
Kenneth E. Grabowski, Legislative Director for the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM), also added that they are aware of the problem.
“POAM supports Rep. Mueller on this issue and urges county health departments to make it a priority to supply our first responders with information that will protect their health and safety,” said Grabowski.
Mueller said he understands the situation with the virus is fluid, and therefore central dispatches should consider removing flags for COVID-19 on residences after 30 days.
“I appreciate Attorney General Dana Nessel, Chief Justice McCormack, and Rep. Gay-Dagnogo’s efforts on this issue,” said Mueller. “I am proud to work across the aisle and across all branches of government to fight for our first responders’ safety and well-being.”