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Iowa Hides Info on Individual Hospitals During Outbreak

Coronavirus

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — As Iowa’s coronavirus outbreak worsens, state officials are collecting information on individual hospitals’ capacity, staffing and resources — but they won’t share it with the public.

The state gathers and maintains such information on a service called the Iowa Health Alert Network, which is accessible to certain agencies and organization, Cedar Rapids television station KCRG reported. But the Iowa Department of Public Health won’t allow local health departments to make the information public.

Only information on hospital capacity and resources statewide is currently shared on the state’s COVID-19 public data portal. Information on individual hospital capacity and resources is considered confidential because it constitutes information concerning physical and critical infrastructure, officials told KCRG.

The Iowa Department of Public Health did not immediately answer questions Tuesday about why the data on individual hospitals is not publicly shared.

Last week, Gov. Kim Reynolds suggested it was hospital staffing shortages, not available bed space, that was causing some hospitals in the state to reach capacity. The data on individual hospitals could bolster — or refute — that assertion.

It’s also information the public deserves to know, said Randy Evans, executive director for the Iowa Freedom of Information Council.

“These are all details that are not violating anyone’s privacy,” Evans said. “But give the public a quick snapshot of what the conditions are like locally.”

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