California Governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 tracing army of 20,000 is about to march the streets to break the spread of coronavirus by following the contacts of those with COVID-19. Newsom has said repeatedly that testing is a pre-requisite for re-opening the state.
In fact, the governor said at a recent Clinton Global Initiative video conference, the state needs to be able to “be able to trace their contacts; to isolate individuals that have either been exposed or quarantine people that are testing positive.’” This can only be accomplished if people “allow for their privacy to be impacted by that kind of acuity of attention based upon where they’ve been and who they talked to.”
Contact tracing is an epidemiological public health practice that works to track down people who have had contact with a person infected with a contagious disease (in this case, COVID-19), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Right now in the U.S., contact tracing is mostly being done by people—tracers are doing the interviews, reaching out by phone, and even going to homes in some cases to follow up, MSN reported.
In South Korea, which did not lockdown the country, contact tracing was used through cell phones. When a COVID-19 patient was identified, that person’s neighbors, co-workers and family were notified – not to be quarantined, but to be made aware, in case they also had symptoms.
CDC Director Robert Redfield said in April “very aggressive” contact tracing is needed of those who test positive for the coronavirus. However, the CDC and government officials are deliberately vague on how this “very aggressive” contact tracing will be accomplished in the U.S.
A woman who attended the recent Zoom training meeting of the CA State Senate Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response, contacted California Globe and said that “the information collected by the tracers will not be protected under HIPPA, and answers to other queries about privacy were nebulous.”
She is right. In early April, the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services announced that “it will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for violations of certain provisions of the HIPAA Privacy Rule against health care providers or their business associates for the good faith uses and disclosures of protected health information (PHI) by business associates for public health and health oversight activities during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.”
This means HHS is suspending HIPAA privacy protections of individuals’ health information.
Has Martial Law been declared?
However, “the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not permit them to give media and film crews access to facilities where patients’ protected health information (PHI) will be accessible without the patients’ prior authorization. The guidance explains that even during the current COVID-19 public health emergency, covered health care providers are still required to obtain a valid HIPAA authorization from each patient whose PHI will be accessible to the media before the media is given access to that PHI.”
Media access was even a consideration?
At one point during the Senate Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response, Senator Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) asked if the the google app they are considering using would follow the person being traced. “Susan Finelli, with the Department of Public Health, said that, no, it wouldn’t—quote—AT LEAST NOT IN THIS INITIAL PHASE!” the woman who attended the video meeting reported.
Where did this idea come from?
During a recent Clinton Global Initiative University livestream, former President Bill Clinton spoke of the need to track people “who are positive” with COVID-19, and described the need for an “army” of young people, Zero Hedge reported.
“California Governor Gavin Newsom agreed, responding that ‘The predicate for getting back to some semblance of normalcy is our ability to identify individuals through testing; to be able to trace their contacts; to isolate individuals that have either been exposed or quarantine people that are testing positive.’”
This can only be accomplished if people “allow for their privacy to be impacted by that kind of acuity of attention based upon where they’ve been and who they talked to.”
After former President Clinton, NY Governor Cuomo, Chelsea Clinton and CA Governor Newsom called for an ‘army of contact tracers’ to monitor citizens who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their contacts, Washington DC posted job openings to become an investigator with “Trace Force.”
The California woman who attended the contact tracing meeting said the program is already well underway. “They mentioned in the meeting that they wanted to hire as many as 20-thousand ‘contact tracers’ in the state, but didn’t specify how long they would be employed and when, and if, there was a sunset on the initiative.”
While Gov. Newsom has acknowledged the state’s $54 billion deficit due to his statewide lockdown, the state is hiring 20,000 more employees to dig into your personal health information.
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