Democrat Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers is moving to publicly name businesses with employees that have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Now, the business community is fighting back, saying the governor’s move is a blatant violation of the state’s privacy laws.
As business owners have rightly noted, any business that is “outed” for having one or more employees testing positive for COVID-19 would essentially be blacklisted by scared local residents. They aren’t going to let the governor steamroll over their basic rights. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), Muskego Area Chamber of Commerce, and New Berlin Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau are hitting back and taking the governor and two of his allies to court.
While there are certainly people who think that outing personal medical information is a great idea if it helps stop the spread of coronavirus, Governor Evers’ move is likely to have the opposite effect. As WMC aptly notes, employees who realize that their employers cannot keep their medical information private will be less likely to share medical information. Contract tracing would become far less effective than it currently is, as those whose names are outed by the Democrat state administration refuse to subject their friends and family members to the same treatment.
Furthermore, the move would have a devastating impact on businesses throughout the state. Most potential customers won’t go near a business that has had a number of employees test positive for COVID-19, even if these employees weren’t in contact with customers.
An eerily similar scenario took place in 2014 when a nurse who was later diagnosed with Ebola paid a visit to Coming Attractions Bridal and Formal in Akron, Ohio. The shop shut down and thoroughly cleansed the site, but it did no good. Customers were simply too terrified to return, and the business was forced to shut down permanently.
In Wisconsin, this scenario would be played out in literally dozens of stores, shops, restaurants, and other businesses as employees would likely have a hard time finding a new job.
Evers’ decision to out businesses is ill-informed at best and downright malicious at worst. The move would cause lasting economic devastation to his state, as companies shut down and employees lose their jobs. It would hinder contact tracing as Wisconsin residents who value even a bit of privacy refuse to share personal information with government snoops.
One can only hope that the temporary injunction against this horrifically authoritarian idea becomes a permanent order.