Contact Tracing and the Heebie Jeebies

By now, the world knows that New York State and New York City in particular have been the hot spots for Covid-19 in the U.S. it also looks like we’re going to model the most patient and gradual reopening plan in the world.

Taking it all in stride

I take it in stride (easy for a no -business owner to say, right?). In all honesty, I am sort of wired for quarantine and social distancing! I am an introvert and I don’t really get bored. One of my favorite things is to sit and think.

As far as New York’s reopening, there are several metrics for reopening. They are also metrics that would be used to decide whether we must re-quarantine. This is where the heebie jeebies start to incubate, particularly with Metric #7:

Metric #7: Contact Tracing Capacity


Here are my concerns:

First, these guidelines are recommended by WHO: a strong arm of the UN with plans for implementing its global vision.

Second, an army of contact tracers. I’m not trying to be cute with the word army. This is a citizen army called to report on fellow citizens.

Third, it begins with giving personal medical information to strangers without my permission.

— First, labs report positive cases of COVID-19 to contact tracers on a daily basis via a state reporting system.

Fourth, it sends this army out to interview Covid-19 infected citizens and then to hunt down the people who have been in contact with them.

— Contact tracers then interview positive patients to identify people they may have been in contact with over the past 14 days. Based on the results of the interview, tracers will advise the positive individual to get tested, and either isolate or quarantine themselves for the following 14 days to prevent further spread of the virus.

Fifth, after the Covid-19 tracer army finds those contacts, it alerts them (fine, thanks) but then it instructs those contacts to quarantine.

— The contact tracer then notifies and interviews each contact of the original positive individual to alert them to their risk of infection, and instructs those contacts to quarantine or isolate for 14 days to prevent further spread.

Sixth, the “contact tracer” monitors those they have put in quarantine.

— Finally, the contact tracer monitors those contacts by text throughout the duration of their quarantine or isolation to see if the contacts are showing any symptoms.

Seventh, the tracer will assist with social services until their quarantine is over.

Members of the tracing team will also work with any individual being traced who needs social services assistance, such as housing, food, or medicine, while they are quarantined or isolated.

Boil it down

It is one thing to quarantine as a community, etc., or as the result of meeting with your doctor who keeps your information private and is concerned with your health. But it is entirely another thing when travers, following a lead, inform you—individually—that you are going into quarantine.

I am mostly concerned with how this can get abused or lead to greater usurping powers wielded by a central government or state.

Think I’m paranoid? Read this.

Categories: Coronaviris and Privacy Concerns

Tags: , ,

2 replies

  1. You may be aware that the Health Department has done this for decades. It’s called Epidemiology and Disease Control. It’s how we keep STDs and TB, to name only two, under control.
    I know this because I am a retired doctor and worked in that Department for years.


    • Thanks Dennis! I do know that. My concern is the unprecedented times we are in and how it could be abused. Of course, it is important to let someone know if they have been exposed to something. Thanks for commenting and sharing your insights.


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