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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The city’s police and fire directors are defending personal information they are given from the state about people who tested positive for COVID-19, saying it’s needed to keep first responders safe.

When first responders are called to a spot where someone has COVID or is under quarantine they must take additional precautions, like wearing additional protective equipment, an N95 mask, gloves, goggles or a protective suit.

Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings said the department releases the addresses of people who have tested positive, but not the names, to officers.

“We fully respect their privacy. Information that is received from the state of Tennessee is protected. It has extremely limited access,” he said.

But the release of the information has left some concerned.

Rallings, joined by Memphis Fire Director Gina Sweat, whose department also receives the data, said the information is routinely destroyed as part of the agreement with the state and follows county privacy laws.

“Early on in the pandemic we did have a number of first responders that tested positive due to various types of exposures,” Sweat said.

At one point hundreds of first responders were quarantined.

Rallings says the Information his office receives is encrypted, and unauthorized release could result in federal prosecution or termination from the department.