The Grapevine

The Problem With Contact Tracing Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Pinpointing people who may have the COVID-19 virus is important, although the efforts now to do so leave a lot to be desired. There are several factors in play, one of which is people being cautious about going out for fear of getting infected by the coronavirus.

It somehow explains why calls for accurate reporting on COVID-19 cases has drawn plenty of criticism. But the key here is cooperation from locals in any region. Unless there is a way to convince people to come out or develop a way to better determine if they are infected, contact tracing will remain inaccurate as far as identifying root sources on where the strain is critical.

Making matters worse is that some people are taking advantage of the pandemic. Scammers are around and such has contributed to people being wary of trusting people who may be calling them to ask about vital personal information. Such has become yet another stumbling block for tracers or virus detectives as they try to track down infected people through calls, the Miami Herald reported.

Given that the growing number of cases behind data privacy and breaches to information has now become a sensitive topic, receiving calls from "strangers" will be in for some rough sailing. Although the practice has been around for quite some time now, the times are different. Identity theft, which could go as far as giving a stranger access to their bank account, is just one of the dangerous scenarios anyone would experience. In these times of financial difficulty, that is something most do not need right now.

“Some people are happy to help and to talk about everything they went through. Or, they don’t believe you are from the health department, and, unfortunately, there are savvy scammers. People are scared of scams and giving out info even though we are not asking for any Social Security or payment information,” an anonymous contact tracer said in the report.

The case of scammers in Florida is rampant, a reason why it may be difficult to come with actual COVID-19 case numbers. And while most would receive random calls, it would be best to set some basic questions on why one would get a call from a contact tracer. One is that they may have tested positive after undergoing a result. If not, there could be someone who tested positive who was in close contact with the one receiving the call. Cases are provided by the health department's Merlin system, the state’s repository of reportable disease case reports, and assigned about 40 to 50 cases a week.

In any case, one good way to be sure is to verify first. There is a phone number where people can check if the contact tracer is legit at the Florida Department of Health (305-470-5660). It may be a delay due to the added process but at least it helps in properly coming up with better numbers and taking the necessary precautions to control the COVID-19 spread.

phone This app allows consumers to simply renew their prescriptions with a certified eye doctor using just their computer or smartphone. Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash