Stop Mandatory Covid-19 testing at Northwestern Health Sciences University

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Protect health privacy and freedom for Northwestern Health Sciences University students and employees.

It has been announced that NWHSU will require all students to submit themselves to a Covid-19 test and provide a negative test result in photo or PDF form to the University before returning to campus in January for the winter term.

In Minnesota, we have a specific law that prohibits mandatory testing, even during a State of Emergency. "Chapter 12.39 Subdivision 1: 'Refusal of treatment. Notwithstanding laws, rules, or orders made or promulgated in response to a national security emergency or peacetime emergency, individuals have a fundamental right to refuse medical treatment, testing, physical or mental examination, vaccination, participation in experimental procedures and protocols, collection of specimens, and preventive treatment programs.'"

https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/12.39

This State law names the right to refuse testing as a “Fundamental right” even in the presence of a peacetime emergency. While this is state law, as a University that is training health care providers to stand up for our patients’ right to health privacy and right to health freedom, the University should stand for those same rights for their students and staff.

When one takes a Covid-19 test, that is their consent to sharing their private health information with the government of the State of Minnesota, and subject themselves to contact tracing. Positive tests for communicable diseases is one of three exceptions to HIPAA in Minnesota. In this case, we also must share our test results with the University as well, further violating the right to health privacy. To give true informed consent to testing and sharing of private health information, it must be free of coercion. When the University requires testing of their students to return to campus, or choose not to return to school and finish their degrees, Students are forced to choose between their health freedom and privacy, or give those up in order to complete their degree. Many students have little choice but to proceed with this testing due to $12,000-$200,000 in debt. That changes the situation from choice to financial coercion. Mandating the sharing of private health information, such as the results of a medical test, is a boundary violation and crosses the line of safety vs. human rights. 

There are compromises that can be made in this situation. If free testing is offered and encouraged, there is a large possibility that there will be high voluntary compliance. We can also reinforce staying home if there are any symptoms of sickness. If someone has reasonable suspicion that they may have covid-19, or may have been exposed, they should be encouraged to stay home. As requested by the state, we are wearing surgical masks in labs and clinic, which according to the school prevents the need for quarantine, even if exposed to covid-19. We can respect health freedom and privacy, while still keeping the campus safe.

We ask that the school respect the health privacy and freedom of their students and employees by making Covid-19 testing voluntary only, with no penalty for refusal to test.