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HIPAA Laws prevent disclosure of motels housing people with COVID

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SALINAS, Calif. (KION)

Alternative housing sites, including motels are contracted by Monterey County to help people who tested positive for coronavirus and need help isolating.  

Essential workers in construction recently staying at a Salinas motel say they had no idea they were staying in rooms potentially next to other infected guests. They believe it’s unsafe and they have a right to know. However the county’s Communications Coordinator, Maia Carroll, because of HIPAA Laws, the county is not permitted to disclose what businesses have partnered with the county.

KION recently reported on a construction worker from Fresno, traveling to Salinas for work on an elementary school. Cesar, who only wants to be identified by his first name, tells KION he was unaware he was staying at a Quality Inn where other guests have COVID.

Cesar shared video of a cleaning crew with Disaster Kleenup Specialists outside of the motel earlier this week. The man in the hazmat suit said he was there to clean for COVID.

When KION called the motel, the front desk manager would not answer any question, and another employee tell us they were not capable of providing any deep cleaning for the virus and did not house people who test positive.

Monterey County’s Emergency Service Director, Gerry Malais tells KION that motels which are partnering with the county should be commented and not receive any bad publicity. Malais says back in March at the start of the pandemic the Monterey County attempted to house people with COVID at the Fairgrounds. However, there was an enormous amount of backlash for fears of infecting surrounding neighbors.

He called the partnership with motels in the county a safety measure to prevent people from freely spreading the virus. Malais points out that these business have security guards to make sure that people are not leaving the motels.

When asked about guest like Cesar, Malais says, “It’s not a legitimate 
concern, if someone is going to stay in a hotel that’s under a Stay-at-Home 
order in which the county is (they) should assume, everywhere they go, everybody is going to have COVID.”

Essential worker like Cesar strongly disagree. A worker from his construction crew fears that he may have been infected at the motel and possibly took the virus home to his wife and children.

Author Profile Photo

Veronica Macias

Veronica Macias is an evening anchor at KION News Channel 5/46.

Comments

3 Comments

  1. IMMINENT DANGER. Providers can share patient information with anyone as necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health and safety of a person or the public — consistent with applicable law and the provider’s standards of ethical conduct.

  2. @Soylent and all
    The actions of Monterey County health officials is outrageous. Many one of them should be either fired immediately or have their pay docked. Who the HELL do these bureaucratic morons think they are? Withholding such information from the public! And citing HIPPA? Jackasses will close out dining, shown to be safe in other states and by research, yet will put tourists and innocent families next door to people sneezing and coughing Covid virus into the air. And they think some maids will disinfect everything! Really?? When I say morons, I mean it literally. Their actions are reprehensible.

  3. And Veronica……….the word is COMMENDED to COMMENTED.
    And damn right they should be receiving terrible publicity.
    Gerry Malais truly IS a ‘malaise’.

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