A judge has denied Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg’s legal request that asked for the county health department to release COVID-19 patient information to them.
Lake County Judge Daniel Jasica denied Idleburg’s motion for temporary restraining order on Monday. Idleburg had asked for 911 dispatchers and the county jail to be provided with the names and addresses of residents who tested positive for coronavirus.
Jasica acknowledged the sheriff’s has “legitimate, important and easily understood” concerns for the health and safety of his employees.
Jasica said that HIPAA law allows the health department to decide for themselves if they want to disclose protected health information to the sheriff’s office. State health law only requires law enforcement to be notified of a public health emergency, Jasica said.
Idleburg declined further proceedings on a preliminary injunction during a hearing on Wednesday following the judge’s decision.
Despite the denial, the sheriff’s office came to a partial agreement with the Lake County Health Department during case management conferences. That agreement will allow the jail’s medical provider to call the health department and confirm if a new inmate had previously tested positive for COVID-19.
“This step will allow us to take an added measure to avoid COVID-19 from being spread in the jail’s congregate setting,” Lake County Sheriff Spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli said.
The lawsuit was filed on April 28 after the health department refused to share the names and address of coronavirus patients.
Hannah Goering, a spokeswoman for the Lake County Health Department, said the department is pleased with the outcome of the case.
“We are pleased about today’s outcome, as it supports our priority to protect both the safety of our law enforcement personnel and the privacy of our residents who test positive for COVID-19,” Goering said. “We truly value our relationship with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and will continue partnering together for the health and well-being of all who live, work, and play in Lake County.”
“While we are disappointed the other provisions requested in temporary restraining order, which we believe would have enhanced the safety of our staff were denied, we do respect the decision of the Judge,” Covelli said.
“We remain grateful for the hard work of the health department during this time and will continue working with them, as we have, to keep our community safe. Sheriff Idleburg remains committed to ensuring his frontline staff and all of his personnel, as well as their families, are safe during this pandemic and always,” he added.
In McHenry County, four police departments and the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office filed a lawsuit in early April against their health department.
A judge granted the police departments’ request and ordered the health department to release names and address of COVID-19 patients to the county’s 911 center on a call-by-call basis.