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|March 31, 2020|
Ontario demands more info on coronavirus patients
ONTARIO – City officials are challenging the county’s contention that releasing basic information about coronavirus patients violates privacy regulations.
Ontario has filed a public records request with the county seeking that communities where the virus has been confirmed be identified.
City Manager Scott Ochoa argues that patient privacy concerns are misplaced. “Until and unless folks can confirm that COVID-19 is impacting their community directly, people are apt to lessen their adherence to the State’s stay-at-home orders – especially when neighboring counties are releasing such information.”
As cities such as Ontario declare their own states of emergency, Mayor Paul Leon says “Our message of social distancing is more impactful if we all know that the threat is indeed present in our community.”
San Bernardino County health officials have not defined where the COVID-19 cases are occurring. Neighboring Riverside County has listed broad geographic areas beginning with the Coachella Valley where the county’s first cases appeared but not a city-by-city breakdown.
Limited information has been released in Riverside County on the gender and ages of those who have died, but not locations.
San Bernardino County officials said Wednesday they will not likely issue news releases each time there is a new case or cases of novel coronavirus/COVID-19 reported within the county.
In an online response to Ontario's public records request, the County stated:
"We have decided not to identify the location of each new case because we should assume and behave as if coronavirus is everywhere. We do not want people outside of those areas to assume they are safe and don't need to take precautions, and we don't want people within those communities to panic or feel they'll be safe if they go somewhere else. Once we get more cases, and we will, we will consider producing a map showing locations where cases have been detected. But right now, we're on the side of not wanting to create needless panic in one community at a time and create false complacency in other communities".
Story Date: March 30, 2020