Minnesota first responders will get notified when called to homes that have COVID-19 cases

(FOX 9)

First responders in Minnesota will now get a heads up when they're called to a home where there is an active COVID-19 case.

The change comes under an executive order issued by Governor Tim Walz on Friday. It's an added level of protection those on frontlines say is necessary to better protect themselves.

"We simply do not have enough personal protective equipment, gloves, the masks, the gowns, to suit up for every call that is out there," said Andy Skoogman with the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association. "So this information is going to be critical to help police officers, firefighters, be better prepared as they go to calls for service.”

The latest executive order allows the Minnesota Department of Health to share only the addresses of those that have tested positive and are still contagious with dispatch centers. That information will then be distributed solely on a need-to-know basis with those responding to the call.

"There's no panacea during a pandemic, but this is one way to help first responders," said Skoogman.

John Gordon of the Minnesota ACLU believes this can do just that and while it implicates some rights of privacy, he hopes the protocol establishes rules that ultimately protect the people.

"I'm optimistic that they are going to continue to head down the path which I think were headed down with this order, which is to collect the minimum amount of information that we possibly can," said Gordon. "And to tightly control how that information gets used, and then to most importantly to get rid of that information so that it's not hanging around in databases."

According to the governor's office, this information should not be shared over radio or anything that can be publicly monitored. Once an address no longer has a postive case, it will be taken off the list.