Nick Novak Discusses WMC v. Gov. Evers Lawsuit with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE – A Wisconsin appeals court agreed Wednesday to hear a case regarding the release of state health department data on businesses linked to COVID-19 cases.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel requested the records from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in June, seeking the names of facilities associated with coronavirus outbreaks and the number of cases.

The state’s largest business lobbying group, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, sued to stop the release of the information to media outlets in October, arguing that the records are protected by patient confidentiality laws and that the disclosure would irreparably harm businesses.

In its order, the Madison-based District IV Court of Appeals demanded an expedited schedule and indicated that the court likely wants to hear oral arguments.

Attorneys for the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce have argued that the public might be able to identify specific employees who tested positive for COVID-19 from the data and that businesses who are tied to those cases could suffer damage to their reputations.

“We are confident that the appellate courts will enforce Wisconsin’s patient-confidentiality rules, as did the circuit court, whose order remains in place,” WMC spokesman Nick Novak said in a statement Wednesday.

Waukesha County Circuit Judge Lloyd V. Carter sided with WMC in the fall, temporarily blocking the state health department from releasing the data and denying motions from the state and the news organization to dismiss the case.

The records in question include the names of approximately 1,000 businesses with 25 or more employees that have had at least two employees test positive or be identified as close contacts.

Read the full article at