CHEROKEE COUNTY – Due to the number of postings and the questions regarding the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Cherokee County, we feel that we need to address the information contained in these releases.
The release of the presence of positive COVID-19 cases in Cherokee County is performed as a courtesy to our community. Also, the release of this information is done with the hope that our community will see the need for the precautions that are being taken and with the hope that our community will take the appropriate steps to ensure the health and well-being of themselves, their families and their community.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), originally passed in 1996 and updated in 2013, protects the privacy of individuals and their medical information. Violation of this law can result in stiff penalties for the person or entity who discloses this information, knowingly or unknowingly.
Many celebrities and other individuals have chosen to waive their right to privacy and inform the public of their positive diagnosis in an effort to bring awareness to this pandemic and reinforce the importance of the precautions outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and Public Health Officials in an attempt to lessen the impact on our communities and “flatten the curve,” while admirable, these individuals made this conscious choice; it was not a part of the processes used by public health officials to release their name, city of residence or any other identifying information.
Cherokee County Public Health Department (CCPHD) recognizes the uncertainty and concern that is being voiced by many of the residents of our community. We will continue to update the community with case number updates as time allows. However, we will not be providing any further information beyond what we are currently providing.
The important information is that this infection is present in our county. Many citizens travel between the small communities in which we live to shop, to eat or to socialize, so precautions should always be taken, not just in communities where a confirmed case resides. We must take steps to prevent the spread.
CCPHD has said that we will contact individuals if they have been in direct contact with individuals who have been infected. We have done this and we will continue to do this. We are also using this time to remind everyone to take proper precautions to stop the spread of the virus including staying at home, washing your hands, not touching your face, and social distancing if you do have to get out.