KEARNEY – Governor Pete Ricketts recently signed an executive order that allows local health departments to release information about known coronavirus cases for the protection of first responders. Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse says that the Two Rivers Public Health Department is not releasing information to the city and he says that this lack of information does not help first responders. Mayor Clouse says that they have been denied on numerous occasions by the director and the board. He said they offered to place stringent controls to respect the privacy of the people affected. They want the information so it can be included in their 911 system.
The full statement by Mayor Clouse can be read below:
Governor Ricketts issued an executive order allowing health districts to release information regarding information about known COVID-19 cases for the enhanced protection of first responders. The executive order clearly defines there are controls to protect the privacy of individuals and there are punitive consequences for violation of that privacy. It is a short term order to assist our first responders (law enforcement, rescue, EMTs, fire, etc.) when making emergency calls during this pandemic.
Sheriff Miller, Chief Waugh, and emergency first responders in communities in Buffalo County believe this is a step that should be taken and consequently we requested (on numerous occasions) Two Rivers Health to release just the addresses of known cases for inclusion in our 911 system. We have been denied by the director and his board.
I believe their logic is flawed and is based on textbook reasoning rather than listening to the reality of first response as shared adamantly by Sheriff Miller, Chief Waugh, and others that deal with emergencies on a daily basis. We also offered to place stringent controls to respect the privacy of the individuals affected.
I am appalled and extremely angry with Two Rivers and their board for denying the release of additional information that could only help our first responders. Any person that supports our first responders should be equally angered at this blatant disregard of a request that CAN be granted and adds an additional layer of protection for our first responders.
As elected officials we have a responsibility to protect our first responders, which subsequently protects our citizens. We do not even know how many cases their are in Kearney. Makes it very hard to manage a crisis when additional information is withheld by an organization that is not held accountable at any level.
If you support our first responders and are equally angered and appalled please feel free to share this as it is the reality of what we are dealing with in regard to Two Rivers Health. It is certainly not how we do business in Kearney and Buffalo County.