Governor Signs Bill on Infectious Disease Testing: Marion County Idea Will Help All First Responders

State Representative John Cavaletto (R-Salem), Republican Spokesperson for the Fire & Emergency Services Committee, announced today that Governor Rauner signed into law Public Act 100-0270 that allows for the testing of all infectious diseases when a first responder or law enforcement personnel is accidentally exposed to a suspects bodily fluids through being spit upon or stuck by a suspected drug needle.

“The idea for this legislation came from the Marion County Sheriff’s office as a result of multiple incidents where law enforcement personnel were accidentally exposed from drug needle sticks while arresting people,” explained Rep. Cavaletto. “The law in Illinois only allows for testing of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus that causes AIDS) and not any other infectious diseases like hepatitis for example. This new law will help protect our first responders as well as their spouses and children from unknowingly being exposed to life-threatening and life-altering diseases,” Cavaletto added.

The incident to bring urgency to this infectious disease testing initiative involved a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who was assisting local law enforcement on serving a warrant and making an arrest. That officer was stuck by a needle while searching the premises of the arrest and only because the suspect eventually voluntarily agreed to have their blood tested, that it was discovered they carried a contagious virus (not HIV). But by this time the spouse and children of the US Marshall had already been exposed.

“I want to thank Detective Anthony Decker of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department who brought this matter to my attention. I’m sorry it took an incident where innocent family members became exposed through no fault of their own to change and update the law,” he added. “This is an example of common-sense legislation where we worked with a variety of groups from first responders to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) to consider balancing individual liberties with public health and safety,” Cavaletto concluded.

In the hearing, no opposition appeared, but a number of groups supporting this legislation appeared as witnesses in favor including the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, Fire Chief EMS Committee, State Ambulance Association, State Medical Society, and the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing. The bill passed the House and the Senate unanimously on its way to the Governor’s desk.

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