Officials Who Say They’re Doing ‘Contact Tracing’ Protesters Hurt Fight Against COVID-19

Medical professionals on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic are not happy with government officials who talk about “contact tracing” protesters.

Not only are they worried that the protests in more than 350 US cities will lead to new clusters of COVID-19 outbreaks. They are also frustrated with how public officials are talking about those protests, and are concerned that this could hinder efforts to contain the coronavirus.

Late last week, amid protests over police brutality and the killing of George Floyd, Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said law enforcement was “analyzing data on who we arrested.” He claimed it was “quite similar” to their way of tracking COVID-19 cases. “This is contact tracing,” he said.

Doctors and scientists say that using the term “contact tracing” in relation to both law enforcement and healthcare is a serious problem.

In the past 3 months, there have been more than 100,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States. Public health experts believe that the biggest tool in their arsenal against the pandemic at this time is contact tracing.

So, what is contact tracing? Basically, it is the process in which health professionals track down everyone who recently came in contact with an infected person to prevent them from spreading the virus.

Dr. Alain Labrecque, epidemiologist and founding director of the Global mHealth Initiative at Johns Hopkins University, explained this as mitigating the fire before it gets out of control.

People who learn they have been exposed to COVID-19 can self-isolate during an incubation period of about two weeks to avoid spreading the virus to others.

Contact tracing alone probably won’t eliminate COVID-19, but studies show it could slow(opens in a new tab) It helps prevent spread and outbreaks.

“Any rhetoric that exposes the identity of protesters using public health contact tracing is extremely harmful and may serve to undermine trust in this public health cornerstone,” Labrecque said.

He said the contactees do all this “without revealing the identity of the case”. That privacy is important is a major reason why some privacy experts are wary of contact-tracing apps.

“Any rhetoric that obscures the identity of protesters using public health contact tracing is extremely harmful…”

Amnesty International has discovered a vulnerability that “would allow cyber attackers to access highly sensitive personal information” in a contact-tracing app Qatar residents were forced to download.

“Contact tracing is built on trust, privacy and rapport,” Labrick said. And people are less likely to trust a health app if they think law enforcement might have access to it, especially if they’re undocumented, have a criminal record, or are just participating in a protest. .

Labrick’s concerns are shared by other public health professionals and organizations, such as the National Coalition of STD Directors. Other epidemiologists take to public social media call out(opens in a new tab) Rhetoric Used in Minnesota.

Of course, law enforcement uses the same methods as the police crime contact information. All of this is essentially investigative work. However, healthcare professionals have different standards of confidentiality.

,[Criminal investigations] ‘Contact tracing’ activities are not and are not bound by the same codes of medical and public health ethics to maintain the privacy of those involved, Labrecque said.

Human rights and privacy advocates have also weighed in. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has called on public health officials to protect citizens’ privacy in response to the rhetoric. requested the authorities Minimize(opens in a new tab) How much data does it collect for contact tracing?

Michael Kleinman, director of Amnesty International’s Silicon Valley Initiative, said in a statement that “proposals from governments that encourage increased surveillance threaten both our right to protest and our right to privacy.”

“Using well-intentioned contact tracing mechanisms to track down protesters further violates protesters’ basic right to assemble,” Kleinman continued.

COVID-19 is still spreading. And the protests against police brutality don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. What medical professionals don’t need right now are public officials stirring up privacy concerns.

“Without public trust … tracing activities cannot be successful,” Labrick tells me. “Without this tool, protests could serve as an incubator for a new wave of COVID-19, defeating the efforts and sacrifices we’ve made over these many weeks to stem the tide of this pandemic.” “

Leave a Comment