What is the purpose of “contact tracing?” It’s to let someone know that they’ve been near someone who has the Covid-19 virus. Fair enough but what is that person supposed to do with that information? The answer, at least for the moment, is that they should self quarantine for 14 days and should go to the doctor if they have symptoms and if a doctor recommends it, they should be tested.
At the moment, the only way for contact tracing to work is that the person who tests positive gives the names to someone at some state organization (that doesn’t really exist at the moment except for a bit in Massachusetts and San Francisco) who then makes the calls.
If you’re tested positive, pick up the damn phone and call those ten people yourself or have a family member do it!
Contact tracing DONE! El finito!
Of course, people need to be reminded and how should we do that? ROBOCALLS! A number of states have banned robocalls but here’s the perfect use for them. Shouldn’t there be a robocall every so often from your state’s governor saying “call people to let them know you’re sick?”
We also have the Amber Alert system that’s available to send out reminders for you to “self trace.” This is all about keeping our friends and relatives safe!
Doing this costs virtually no money and could be implemented in under 24 hours.
How about the “you were within 4 feet of someone at a Walmart who tested positive for Covid-19?” Let’s say that technology could be instantly brought into existence, would you act on it? I wouldn’t! Maybe I’d be a bit more careful but until I got sick, I wouldn’t do anything differently. Even if I got sick, there’s no telling where I actually picked up the virus since it could have been just as easily transmitted by something I touched.
All of these things are fine but if you don’t actually MODIFY YOUR BEHAVIOR, it doesn’t matter! If I’m not sick, I will continue to go into the world and I will abide by social distancing guidelines regardless of whether an app detected I was close to someone.
Let me be more clear, unless the government forces me, I will not self quarantine because I might have been close to someone with Covid-19. I will take all the precautions that are both mandatory and suggested but until I get sick, I have a life to lead and putting my life on hold out of “maybe possibly” just isn’t happening. On the other hand, if I get a call from someone who’s sick who I’ve been in contact with, I will definitely self quarantine as best I can.
In Part 2, I’ll discuss why this scheme doesn’t provide the states with what they think they need — data.