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Health Department’s Positive COVID-19 Letter Upsetting Some

For the second time in recent weeks, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)  has come under fire for the way they notify those that have tested positive for COVID-19.

In Late April, WGMD News Radio’s Rob Petree reported that a small business owner in Sussex County, David Gribbins, was sent a letter from DHSS after the agency said he tested positive.
According to Petree’s reporting, Gribbins was tested, however, he tested negative and the agency got it wrong.  Gribbins raised his concerns with WGMD after reading the words “waive (give up) rights” that are found in the letter.

Today, another recipient of the letter, a local healthcare worker,  has raised those same concerns. ” So, because I put myself at risk caring for others, I now have to give up my constitutional rights to proper judicial process because I got sick? “, asked the healthcare worker.

After many days in self-quarantine and experiencing the effects of COVID-19, the worker wonders what would happen if someone falsely claimed that they’ve seen them in public? “I never agreed to this…”

When I first realized that I had contacted COVID-19

” I finished my shift… I got home and my back was killing me. I couldn’t get comfortable at all. Then I started to cough. Nothing crazy, just a dry cough. The next morning it got worse. No, my legs were aching. I felt fatigued. It was at that point I knew I probably had gotten it.”

The worker said they were not going break quarantine, however, the letter was cause for concern. I don’t want anyone else to go through this, referring to COVID-19, but I thought it was crazy that my constitutional rights were, in essence, being revoked because I’m sick.

The strongly worded letter

While the language the letter is accurate it is definitely artfully worded.  To some recipients, it reads as you give up your rights and you further understand that if you fail to comply you may be committed involuntarily.

It is factually accurate that if you choose not to challenge the DHSS’s Isolation Instructions you are essentially waiving the need for a court hearing. If you fail to follow DHSS’s Isolation Instructions and the agency were to seek an Involuntary Emergency Isolation Order a court hearing would be required at some point. (Read the law using the link below)

THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EMERGENCIES AND PUBLIC HEALTH.

While both have concerns about the wording of the letter, Gribbin’s situation went deeper.  As previously mentioned, Gribbin had a tested negative, however, the state sent him a letter stating he had tested positive.  The concern was that if he didn’t quarantine and wait for a release letter from the state he would be locked up despite testing negative. Without the release letter from the state and with the courts closed to the public, for the most part, he was in legal limbo.  Despite attempts by Rob Petree to get answers from DHSS on Gribbin’s behalf it’s still not clear if Gribbin ever received a release letter or an apology from the agency.

Healing and getting back to work

Still symptomatic, the healthcare worker is looking forward to getting back to work. “That’s my “family”… I need to get back there to help. I’m useless just sitting here in my quarantine bedroom.”

The letter, received many days after the healthcare worker was first tested, indicates that the worker will need to be retested when their symptoms subside.  “I have to have two negative tests separated by 24 hours to be negative”, said the worker.

Despite contacting COVID-19, being quarantined, and getting a letter that seemed to suspend due process rights, the worker remains in good spirits, saying “I can’t wait to get back.”

 

 

About Staff Writer

First State Update's Delaware editorial team covers New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County breaking news, political news, and general news stories. We bring the reader the latest news from the Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth Beach and all point in between. If you have news to share, email us at desk@firststateupdate.com.

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