Mississippi’s State Department of Health has clarified that it is not withholding the names of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks because a federal patient privacy law demands secrecy. Rather, it’s decided that to identify the site of an outbreak could be “stigmatizing.”

Stigmatizing to whom? The residents and their family members don’t want it hushed up. Maybe some of the facilities do, but even not all of them.

To say there are three facilities in Leflore County with COVID-19 but not saying which ones throws suspicion over all of them. “It’s a bit like saying a house is on fire, but unless you can spot the smoke yourself, you’re not going to get the address from us,” is how one observer described the situation.

Several other states have decided a lack of transparency with nursing home outbreaks is not only unjustified but it could contribute to their spread.

Mississippi should change its policy.

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