State Auditor Rob Sand succeeds in getting figures released about COVID-19 cases at Iowa meatpacking plants
Posted: Tue, May 5, 2020 4:17 PM
It took nine days, but Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand, a Decorah native, has succeeded in his effort to get the Iowa Department of Public Health to release figures about COVID-19 cases at Iowa meatpacking plants.
On April 27th, Sand released an advisory opinion that HIPAA, the federal law that protects "personally identifiable health information," does not prevent disclosure of aggregate data, statistics, or other information that doesn't identify an individual.
He then pushed for the disclosure of the number of individuals in packing plants who have COVID-19.
Those figures for COVID-19 rates at Iowa's meat packing facilities have now been released:
--Iowa Premium, Tama: 258 cases (39 percent of those tested)
--Tyson, Columbus Junction: 221 cases (26 percent of those tested)
--Tyson, Waterloo: 444 cases (17 percent of those tested)
--Tyson, Perry: 731 cases (58 percent of those tested)
"I am glad to see packing plants outbreak numbers made public, but disappointed it took weeks after I called for it and nine days after we issued an official advisory. We should never see a corporation or a public official claiming that HIPAA justifies withholding the big picture from the public," said Sand.