I was asked a question from a community association client about the Board’s responsibilities to disclose to other members if a member of the community tests positive for coronavirus.
Given concerns regarding HIPAA and a patient’s rights of privacy in their private medical information, as well as the protections in Florida Condominium Law (Section 718.111(12)3.d., Florida Stats.) and Homeowners’ Association Law (Section 720.303(5)(c)4., Florida Stats.) against disclosing the medical records of owners and residents, the Association must take care regarding any communications with the owners and residents without the express permission of the infected person. Associations should only make such decisions after consultation with the Board’s attorney, but some general guidelines are as follows:
Consent to Disclose. If the person with the coronavirus consents in writing to full disclosure, the board can disclose the person’s name to the membership. This allows residents that have had contact with the person to immediately self-quarantine and get tested for the virus.
The Board should obtain written consent before making any such disclose from the infected individual or that individual’s attorney. Never rely on any oral representations.Additionally, the Board’s communication should be limited to members and residents. If there is a need to communicate this information to public health officials, vendors in the community, or third parties, the Board should encourage the individual to do so if necessary. The Board should not disclose this information to any third parties without explicit, written consent of the individual and, even then, the Board should contact its attorney before doing so.
No Consent to Disclose. If the infected person tells the board in confidence that he contracted the coronavirus and does not want anyone to know, the Board may still have a duty to notify the membership. Without consent, however, the Board cannot disclose the person’s name or any identifying information. The Board should simply state, “A resident has reported testing positive for the coronavirus. Residents should continue to take precautions as advised by federal, state, and local governments. Please consult the websites for
- the Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html and
- the Florida Department of Public Heath: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/”