At the time, first responders had shortages of personal protective equipment and were rationing masks, gloves and other gear. The idea was to give local officials lists of people who tested positive for the virus to help law enforcement and emergency workers know when they should use that limited protective equipment because they’d be encountering someone who had the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus.
Those shortages are largely gone.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has spread across Louisiana, so the lists don’t truly show the footprint of the virus outbreak anymore. Many people are asymptomatic and don’t know they have the virus. Others have only minor symptoms and may not bother to get tested.
Edwards acknowledged Tuesday that the reason initially offered for sharing the personal information — the protective gear shortages — have disappeared. He also noted that public health officials say first responders should act as though anyone they encounter could be carrying the virus.