Letter to the Editor: Need More Details about Local COVID-19 Spread

I heard Dr. James Heise, Door County Medical Center’s chief medical officer, during a late-afternoon radio interview (97.7 FM) on Oct. 28, during which he said COVID-19 in Door County was “rampant.” To my knowledge, that’s about as strong a description made by any health official in Door County. 

He expressed frustration about the failure of residents and businesses to practice social distancing and wear masks and grew emotional while talking about a patient who repeatedly went to a local establishment (unnamed) where precautions were lax. Without directly saying it, he indicated it was where the patient contracted COVID. The kicker came a moment later when Dr. Heise said he expected the patient would die in a couple of days. It was dramatic and hit hard.

All of us could benefit from hearing Dr. Heise’s urgent, alarming message. Personally, I want to know about businesses or gathering places that are suspected of being or identified as spreaders. Crucial information sometimes doesn’t get to the general community. Public-health officials here and elsewhere fall back on privacy protection as a key reason to withhold information. 

But in any area with soaring positive cases, the imperative to save lives and protect people from physical harm ought to outweigh individual rights or any other justification for confidentiality. Is there a moral obligation to provide more detail so we can be forearmed? I think so.

G. Michael Killenberg

Jacksonport, Wisconsin