Arizona court upholds decision not to release COVID records for book
PHOENIX (AP) – An Arizona appeals court has upheld a lower court decision to deny a request for COVID-19-related medical records that it says may include information that should be kept private.
JD Ball of Scottsdale represented himself in a lawsuit originally filed in Maricopa County Superior Court against the Arizona Department of Health Services in 2020 after refusing to provide him with the documents he requested regarding the coronavirus epidemic.
Ball argued he needed the information for a book he was writing on COVID-19 so he could “source the data” because he believed there was “no public health emergency in the state of Arizona “.
A phone number recorded on a JD Ball in the Phoenix subway went unanswered on Friday. A message to an email address associated with this name was not immediately resent.
A three-judge Arizona Court of Appeals panel said in its ruling Tuesday that in addition to data on death certificates, “Ball specifically requested data regarding confirmed cases, hospitalizations, testing. laboratory, hospital bed usage and availability, ventilator usage and availability, and »COVID -19 specific metrics. “
The appeals court said the broad categories set out by Ball “include medical information that falls within the definition of medical records.” He said that even if patient identification data were redacted as he suggested, “there is still a danger that the patient’s identity could be inferred.”
The ruling also said Ball also demanded answers to “administrative, political and scientific questions” that had nothing to do with the request for public documents.
Ball sued after the Arizona Department of Health Services denied his request for documents he used when preparing his publications on the disease, including an online dashboard.
The public health agency said it could not release private medical information, information on communicable diseases or death certificates.
Ball countered that he didn’t want personal health-related data, “only public records proving COVID-19” exists as a pandemic virus “and is a communicable disease in Arizona.”
Arizona has reported more than 1.3 million cases and more than 24,000 deaths from the coronavirus during the pandemic.
The state reported more than 7,700 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the most reported in a single day since last January. State officials said earlier this week that some daily reports of additional cases would be larger than normal due to reporting delays over Christmas weekend.
Friday’s report of an additional 7,720 cases is more than double the latest seven-day moving average of Arizona’s new daily cases. This moving average does not include cases reported Friday or the 5,687 Thursday.