For months, as they’ve tracked the coronavirus’ creep across the state, epidemiologists at the Minnesota Department of Health have quietly worried about the impacts of a single paragraph they’re required to read at the end of every case interview.
It’s an opt-in, intended to let a patient know how their contact information will be shared with law enforcement.
But the health workers fear it has had an unintended chilling effect on the critical work of testing and tracing positive COVID-19 cases to stop the spread of the virus in some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable communities — a concern they’ve raised repeatedly to the highest levels of state government.
Those fears played out for one Minnesota woman, Lizeth, in early April, when COVID-19 was still a relatively new and baffling disease.
She had dropped her husband off at a local emergency room after he’d battled three weeks of fevers, a cough