CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming Department of Health employee working with computer code accidentally released COVID-19 test results for one-quarter of the state's residents as well as associated names, addresses, birth dates and other information, the department announced Tuesday.
The employee also inadvertently released law enforcement blood alcohol test information for thousands of others going back to 2012.
In all, the employee released information on 164,010 people to private and public storage locations on GitHub.com, an internet-based software development platform. The release included COVID-19 plus flu test results for 145,698 Wyoming residents and blood alcohol test results for another 18,312 people mainly from Wyoming but also other states.
State officials don't know if anybody has misused the information, department spokeswoman Kim Deti said.
Wyoming has about 577,000 residents, according to the 2020 census, meaning the COVID-19 testing release alone affected some 25% of the state's population.
“We are taking this situation very seriously and extend a sincere apology to anyone affected. We are committed to being open about the situation and to offering our help,” department Director Michael Ceballos said in a statement.
The unidentified employee began mishandling the information as long ago as Nov. 5. The information became publicly available on GitHub as long ago as Jan. 8.
The release didn't stem from any problem with GitHub, which has privacy and security policies and procedures for data use, according to the department statement.
Department officials became aware of the problem March 10 and began mailing notices to affected people Monday. The department doesn't have contact information for everybody affected, however, so Wyoming residents who got COVID-19 tests anywhere in the U.S. before March 10 should call (833) 847-5916 to find out if their information was released.
Anyone given a breath alcohol test by Wyoming law enforcement between April 19, 2012, and Jan. 27, 2021, also should call.
The department will give those affected a year of identity theft protection through the IdentityForce advanced credit and dark web monitoring service.