May 8, 2020

WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON YOUR PHONE THAT THIS EVEN A QUESTION?:

Would You Let The Government Track Your Smartphone If It Meant We Could Reopen Sooner? (DAVID H. FREEDMAN, 05/08/20, Newsweek)

 To avoid more emergency-room disasters like the one that overwhelmed New York City in April, public-health officials must act aggressively to stop small outbreaks before they develop into big ones. The key, experts say, is contact tracing. For each new COVID-19 case, health care workers would develop a list of people the patient might have interacted with before symptoms developed. Then they would contact each one and recommend self-quarantine.

Contact tracing was used effectively during previous outbreaks, notably HIV/AIDS. With COVID-19, inquiries wouldn't be as intrusive as questions about sexual partners, of course, but they would reach many more people--in a country where citizens take to the streets over such assaults against their liberty as the closing of hair salons and gyms. With the coronavirus infecting tens of thousands of people each day, tracking down all those contacts would take an army of health care workers: about 100,000, says the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

Technology, the thinking goes, might help automate the process. It's worked in South Korea, which achieved COVID-19 numbers that are the envy of much of the world: as of early May, it logged fewer than 11,000 cases, in a population of 50 million, and just over 250 deaths--or 1/16th the U.S. per capita case rate, and 1/300th the death rate. More than 20 countries, including most of Asia, have already been enlisting cellphones to help identify those who might have been exposed to the infection, so those people can self-isolate or get cleared by a test. America, with its vaunted technology industry, is a laggard.

Posted by at May 8, 2020 7:47 AM

  

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