Contact Tracing for COVID-19: Would You Participate?

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has claimed the lives of many, greatly impacted economies, and shifted everyday norms for people across the world. In the U.S specifically, over 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment while on the other side, medical staff and healthcare providers’ employment has increased. One of the most unique challenges of COVID-19 is the level to which the virus is taken seriously in each population. In America, not only have the number of COVID cases increased significantly, but people have begun resuming their normal pre-corona activities, increasing the chances the virus will spread more rapidly. This has enforced the need to monitor and track those who have contracted the virus and inform and monitor those other individuals and places they have recently contacted. This action of monitoring and tracing COVID patients is called Contact-Tracing and was developed to accurately collect data about the number of cases and to inform the appropriate parties of any recent contact with a COVID carrier.

Although contact-tracing is a new and widely accepted data collection method, there are a few factors that have possibly contributed to people having varied feelings about participating in the study. Varying opinions from government officials, alarming new findings from leading virologists and scientists, changing mandates on public health safety precautions, and many other events have lead Americans to question the intentions or purpose of any new activity concerning the coronavirus. With questions and concerns like these, it is easy to get a mixed result of those willing and unwilling to participate in contact-tracing studies. However, despite consistent coronavirus chaos, in a recent study, about 62% of participants said they would participate and 17% said they would not. Other numbers reflect those who were not certain but even in that category, majority leaned toward yes. See the charts below:

TOP TWO Observations from COVID-19 in areas with a high population density

TOP TWO Observations from COVID-19 in areas with a high population density

Over three days during the week of March 30th, Jasfel Analytics conducted an informal survey of 25+ local stores in high-density and mixed-income areas in northern NJ. These retailers consisted of local grocers, corner stores, restaurants, convenience stores with gas stations, laundromats, and pharmacies.

Here are the top two observations of this study:

  • Social Distancing: Only 10% of stores surveyed practiced social distancing inside of their facility. A staggering 100% of the stores did not practice social distancing outside of the stores.
  • Disinfection: An astonishing 100% of the stores surveyed did not sanitize high touchpoints used to enter their stores. The study observed a minimum of 25 individuals entering and leaving the stores. Most of the consumers entering and exiting the stores did utilize plastic gloves (or any hand protection) or face masks.

Major chain stores like ShopRite, Home Depot, and others in high-density areas observed social distancing and disinfection guidelines as ordered by the state.

To truly combat COVID-19, local governments must use data to track possible hotspots in the community and enforce the rules on social distancing and disinfection. If the rise in infections continues, local and state governments will bear the burden of thousands of infected residents.