Sixty percent of workers who have tested positive for coronavirus in Los Angeles have refused to cooperate with contact tracing, making the pandemic harder to control and raising doubts about whether such a system can work nationwide.
The Los Angeles Times reported Friday:
The county’s contact tracing system has repeatedly failed to find workplace outbreaks before they spread widely, placing an ever-expanding circle of employees, their families and others at risk.
The number of people testing positive who tracers have been able to reach has fallen to 68% in recent weeks, down from 75% earlier in the pandemic, according to officials. And only 40% of those people have been willing to disclose who they may have exposed.
In theory, contract tracing involves working with coronavirus patients to discover everyone they may have been near in the previous two weeks, and then contacting those people to warn them and urge them to self-quarantine.
Some public health experts — and many critics of President Trump, especially in the media — have insisted that the U.S. will not be able to return to normal life until the country has a universal system of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.
However, evidence from some other countries has suggested that contract tracing is difficult to implement, partly because people resist invasions of their privacy, especially when contact tracing requires handing over mobile phone location data.
The Times reports that the same is true in L.A., quoting Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, who said people refuse to participate because they “are fearful of losing their housing, their jobs and their relationships.”
The result, the Times notes, is continued spread: “The consequences of the contact tracing failures are playing out in real time. This month, county officials blamed workplace outbreaks for playing a major role in the recent surge in infections.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.