As public health officials warn of a new surge in coronavirus cases following mass protests in densely populated cities, the New York City mayor’s office has instructed its contact tracing team not to ask tested individuals if they participated in the crowded demonstrations.
“No person will be asked proactively if they attended a protest,” Avery Cohen, a spokesperson for Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office told The City newspaper.
Contact tracers will instead ask whether those tested are able to “recall ‘contacts’ and individuals they may have exposed,” Cohen told the paper, while also requesting information on “close contacts” including anyone within 6 feet for more than 10 minutes. Even though this definition includes the hundreds of people an infected person likely crossed paths with during the crowded Black Lives Matter protests in recent weeks, contact tracers will not be inquiring about their involvement.
“Any person has the opportunity to share this info over the course of their interview with a tracer,” Cohen wrote in a tweet sent to The Federalist when asked for comment. “Large anonymous environments where you may not be able to recall a close contact pose a natural challenge to tracing, which is why we’re urging all NYers to get tested.”
1. Any person has the opportunity to share this info over the course of their interview with a tracer.
2. Large, anonymous environments where you may not be able to recall a close contact pose a natural challenge to tracing, which is why we’re urging all NYers to get tested.
— Avery Cohen (@CohenAvery) June 15, 2020
While the anonymous environment the protests presented might make it difficult to identify those who could have been exposed, excluding questions on protest participation hinder the ability of public health officials to conclude whether the massive demonstrations played a role in spreading the virus.
As families across the country were prohibited from properly saying goodbye to dying or deceased loved ones because the government deemed it too dangerous, enormous protests violating social distancing guidelines were able to proceed even featuring public officials ordering the rest of their constituents to stay home.
After two weeks of protesting in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. reported a new spike in cases over the weekend under phase one of reopening announcing that its new surge would delay the district’s calendar for moving on to phase two.