Judge denies Lake County sheriff's request for information on COVID-19 patients

  • A judge has denied Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg's legal effort to force the county health department to provide the names and addresses of residents who've tested positive for COVID-19.

      A judge has denied Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg's legal effort to force the county health department to provide the names and addresses of residents who've tested positive for COVID-19. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, 2018

 
 
Updated 5/20/2020 3:23 PM

A Lake County judge has rejected Sheriff John Idleburg's legal bid to force the county health department to provide information about COVID-19 patients.

Despite the denial, however, the sheriff's office will get something out of the effort. Under an agreement between the sheriff and health department, the Lake County jail's medical provider can call the health department to confirm if a new inmate had previously tested positive for the coronavirus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"This step will allow us to take an added measure to avoid COVID-19 from being spread in the jail's congregate setting," sheriff's Sgt. Chris Covelli said Wednesday.

Idleburg sued the health department April 28, days after officials there refused to share the names and addresses of county residents who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The sheriff's attorney, Steve McArdle, said Idleburg does not intend to appeal Judge Daniel Jasica's ruling.

Hannah Goering, a health department spokeswoman, said the department is pleased with the outcome.

"It supports our priority to protect both the safety of our law enforcement personnel and the privacy of our residents who test positive for COVID-19," she said. "We truly value our relationship with the Lake County Sheriff's Office and will continue partnering together for the health and well-being of all who live, work, and play in Lake County."

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Covelli said the sheriff's office respects the judge's decision.

"We are disappointed the other provisions requested in temporary restraining order, which we believe would have enhanced the safety of our staff, were denied," he said. "We remain grateful for the hard work of the health department during this time and will continue working with them, as we have, to keep our community safe."

On May 1, a Cook County judge turned down a request of Northwest suburban 911 dispatchers, municipalities and police departments for information about confirmed COVID-19 patients, citing privacy concerns.

McHenry County's sheriff won a similar suit last month, while health departments in DuPage and Will counties are voluntarily providing addresses of COVID-19 patients.

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