Officials in New York’s Rockland County recently got aggressive about COVID-19 contact tracing, issuing subpoenas to eight party-goers who refused to cooperate with tracking surveillance efforts.
Is anyone surprised at this? I certainly am not, the only surprising thing is that this model has not yet been adopted nationwide. Give it time, it will be. Wasn’t only as recently as April 10th that we were told that contact tracing would be voluntary? Yep, it sure was., right up to the moment when it wasn’t. Of course, just like the telephone tax used to fund the Spanish-American War in 1893, don’t expect it to go away anytime soon. What you can expect is hefty fines for non-compliance like what we are now seeing in New York.
Long before the Jews were physically sent to concentration camps, they were marked with a yellow star before being segregated into ghettos. That’s how it works, it’s a process that takes place over time, but rest assured that slow, steady arc will complete its mission. COVID made be the excuse they are using to force contact tracing surveillance, but you can bet the farm on the fact that it will quickly be applied to all sorts of other areas that have nothing to do with coronavirus. Enjoy the article below from Forbes extolling the virtues of fining people $2,000 per day for not taking part in contact tracing surveillance tracking.
$2,000 A Day Fine For Obstructing Coronavirus Contact Tracing
FROM FORBES: If the eight had failed to comply, they would have been subject to fines of $2,000 per day; however, within 24 hours, all eight acquiesced, signaling that the threat of a monetary fine may be an effective health policy tool to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
100 Person Gathering In Rockland County:
As reported by The New York Times, a party in Rockland County, NY in mid-June attracted a crowd of 100 people, in violation of a state ordinance that capped gathers at 10 people. After the party’s host and eight guests tested positive, Rockland officials launched a vigorous contact tracing effort to identify others who may have been exposed. They quickly hit a road-bump as several of the party-goers obstructed the efforts.
“My staff has been told that a person does not wish to, or have to, speak to my disease investigators,” Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, the county’s health commissioner, was quoted in the Times. Of the individuals her team tried to contact, Dr. Schnabel said, “they hang up. They deny being at the party even though we have their names from another party attendee.”
Rockland County Subpoenas and Potential Fines:
Instead of tolerating the party-goers selfish refusal to cooperate, Rockland County upped the ante, issuing subpoenas. “Those who did not comply and share what they knew by the following day would face fines of $2,000 a day,” according to Rockland officials.
The subpoena and financial warning worked as all eight individuals who had received a subpoena started cooperating with the county Health Department. “I will not allow the health of our county to be compromised because of ignorance, stupidity or obstinance, or anything else,” Ed Day, a Rockland County executive, said.
Contact Tracing Is Essential:
Contact tracing is one of the few tools that public health officials have in their arsenal to fight coronavirus outbreaks until a vaccine is safely developed.
“A role of government is to protect individuals and their families as well as health care workers and other essential workers,” wrote Dr. Tom Frieden, who headed up the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the Obama administration and oversaw responses to H1N1, Ebola, and Zika, and Dr. Kelly Henning, the director of public health at Bloomberg Philanthropies and a former professor of infectious disease at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “The hard, skilled work of contact tracing is akin to hurricane warnings: People are alerted so they can protect themselves and their families. . .we need to play the hand we’ve been dealt as well as we possibly can to save lives, reduce spread and help restore our economy.”
Sadly, New York City and other places that have embraced contact tracing, have struggled with its execution. In New York, less than half of city residents who had tested positive or were presumed positive provided information to contact tracers. In Massachusetts, only 60 percent were responding and in Louisiana, fewer than 50 percent were answering.
“What we lived through. . . is [the] equivalent of a forest fire,” Andy Slavitt told PBS Newshour host, Judy Woodruff. “What we have to do is to prevent forest fires from breaking out, so we can catch things when they’re little campfires. And in order to do that, we have to have the ability to surround the outbreak as it happens, so it doesn’t spread into community again.”
Adopt Rockland County’s Approach:
The rest of the country should adopt Rockland County’s model. Contact tracing is so crucial to containing outbreaks, that it shouldn’t be left up to the whims of individuals. The Covid-19 pandemic proves how health and wealth are tightly integrated. Economic recovery depends on being able to control the outbreak of Covid-19 and currently, the U.S is failing miserably. “The virus drives the economics,” said Betsey Stevenson, who served on President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and is now a professor at the University of Michigan. If Covid-cases keep rising, “we’re not going to have people going back to work,” she added.
Up until now, most coronavirus prevention efforts, including quarantines and contact tracing, have only been loosely enforced. When you have imbeciles in Alabama throwing Covid parties to see who can get infected first and selfish vacationers in the Ozarks crowding pools without masks, we need to wake up to the fact that voluntary efforts are inadequate.
Individual rights have limits. Just like one cannot yell fire in a crowded movie theater and one’s right to throw a punch ends where another’s nose begins, we need to rethink the balance of individual rights and community obligation. If individuals aren’t willing to take rational and basic steps to mitigate the spread, the government must mandate action and ramp up enforcement.
Rockland County’s subpoena and threat of a $2,000 fine worked well. The rest of the country should adopt equal measures. American lives depend on it. READ MORE
COVID-19 Surveillance and the Difficulty of Contact Tracing
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