State chamber renews call not to name businesses with coronavirus

MADISON — The president of Wisconsin's chamber of commerce on Wednesday repeated his call for the state Department of Health Services not to publish the names of businesses traced to two or more positive cases of COVID-19.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce President Kurt Bauer last week asked that DHS back off its plans to make the names public. A department spokeswoman said Tuesday there were no plans to publish them, but agency Secretary Andrea Palm appeared to hedge during a news conference when she said there were no plans to do that “this week.”

Bauer said releasing the names was “potentially defamatory.”

“Publishing the names of businesses with employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 would likely cause even more economic damage to employers on the list while doing nothing to improve public health,” he said. “Not to mention, the uncertainty coming from DHS over the last week has left businesses around the state wondering if they are going to become a target of this potentially defamatory release.”

A spokeswoman for the state health department did not immediately return a message seeking comment.