Butte Co. Public Health Director addresses recent outbreaks at apartment complex & business

When the department announced the outbreaks on Aug. 26, it did not release what apartment complex or business was involved.

Posted: Aug 27, 2020 7:20 PM
Updated: Aug 28, 2020 12:30 PM

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - Butte County Director of Public Health Danette York spoke about the recent outbreaks where, so far, 15 people have tested positive.

When the department announced the outbreaks on Aug. 26, it did not release what apartment complex or business was involved. Click Here to read more from that initial press release.

At the department's weekly press briefing, several topics were discussed, including the four new deaths within the past week. Also, the way the county is tracking numbers.

There are currently two different websites the state is using to track numbers. The California Department of Public Health and COVID19.CA.GOV, the site Governor Gavin Newsom and his office tracks numbers on, with that site typically reporting higher numbers.

Butte County will be using the numbers from the Department of Public Health, saying it will allow them to move forward with the school waiver application process.

Action News Now was at the Aug. 27 press briefing and asked York about the outbreaks. Read a transcription of that conversation below.


BCPH DIRECTOR, DANETTE YORK: In a case like an apartment complex, we know exactly who's there and we can follow-up with them and all of their contacts to ensure whether or not they have been exposed.

ANCHOR SCOTT RATES: How do you know the public was not exposed in either case?

YORK: I can't tell you that because I'm not the disease investigator. But, the disease investigator contacts the person that has the case, and in this case, the manager of the apartment complex and the [employer of the business] and goes through a very detailed conversation to do the investigation to determine who could have possibly been exposed.

RATES: So, you can guarantee to the public out there that there is no risk? Either from this business or the apartment complex, correct?

YORK: We never give guarantees. There's always a risk.

RATES: This doesn't fall under HIPPA laws here as far as privacy is concerned. Contact tracing is very important. So, why not get that information out there to keep people safe, even if there is minimal risk of exposure?

YORK: I would disagree, it does fall under HIPPA laws. The individual who has COVID-19 has the right to privacy. If we release too much information, it could identify those individuals.

RATES: But you're not naming names here, we're naming apartment complexes and businesses. That would not fall under HIPPA law.

YORK: That's correct, but people could identify the individuals by process of elimination, especially if it's a small workplace. People could identify who has been out sick and realize who it is that has COVID.

RATES: Just to be clear, to release the name of the apartment complex and the business would not fall under HIPPA law, correct?

YORK: That's correct.

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