Diary

Gee, This is a Surprise!

If the news media were busy telling Americans, every day, that President Donald Trump was a horrible authoritarian and fascist, wouldn’t you expect that people might start being more wary of the government? If state governors, like Tom Wolf (D-PA), and big city mayors, like Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) were imposing, on their own expansive ideas of their authority, edicts which closed businesses and schools, limited what you could do and where you could go, wouldn’t you think that perhaps, just perhaps, some people might start becoming more wary of the government? If you read that social media giants like Facebook were censoring posts that didn’t meet with their political approval,¹ don’t you think that people might stop trusting things that they are told?

So, how can this be a surprise to anyone? From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Philly contact tracers compete against time and reluctance to corral surging coronavirus

by Jason Laughlin | October 12, 2020 | 5:00 AM EDT

Every day, Tolulope Oyetunde wakes up to a list of Philadelphians newly exposed to COVID-19.

Sometimes it’s just a few names. Other days, the names fill pages. She is one of 122 Philadelphia contact tracers, tasked with identifying people who had recent close contact with COVID-19-positive people and informing those contacts they were exposed to a potentially fatal illness.

“I’ve had people hang up on me,” the 26-year-old said. “I’ve had people who were in denial. I’ve had people who were just angry.”

When COVID-19 first struck the region, it overwhelmed county health department efforts to track cases. Since then, both the counties and states have sought to build robust tracing units to contain the spread by letting people know they could infect others if they don’t isolate themselves.

Further down, the article notes the problems:

  • Between 5% and 7% of positive test results couldn’t be traced because it took too long to get the test results.
  • Almost half of positive tests result in telephone calls that the recipient will not answer. The article does not specify why people won’t answer, but most times that I do not recognize a name or number on my cell phone, I don’t answer it; it’s almost always spam or telemarketers.
  • Some people who are contacted refuse to provide information about whom they have met.

There are also people who answer but won’t help. In Philadelphia, about 8% of 7,088 positive cases in the last month refused to share contacts. In Camden County, health officials said, as many as 69% of infected people in recent weeks refused. A failure to identify and communicate with people exposed to the virus seriously undermines health officials’ ability to corral the virus. . . . .

Experts say some people, including immigrants, are afraid of sharing information with the government, even though their answers to tracers stay confidential. Some are ashamed of admitting how they got infected.

Imagine that: in a ‘sanctuary’ city like Philadelphia, immigrants aren’t going to want contacts with the government!

Part of the contact tracers’ jobs are to urge people to “isolate themselves,” to self-quarantine. After the lockdowns and travel restrictions of earlier this year, some of which are still in place — and anybody who pays attention to the news has had the chance to have heard that Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) have instituted new lockdown restrictions in several areas of the city in Brooklyn and Queens — and many people don’t want to put themselves back into what amounts to house arrest. The images of the NYPD trying to shut down a Jewish holiday celebration didn’t exactly present the Mayor with a good image.

The story also included a photo of a black woman, possibly contact tracer Tolulope Oyetunde though the caption does not identify her, wearing a t-shirt with the logo “Black Health Matters”. That’s uncomfortably close to Black Lives Matter, and if she has been going to people’s homes while wearing a shirt carrying what could be seen as a political message, it wouldn’t be too surprising if some people shut the door in her face.

Americans have a right to privacy, and that privacy is being intruded upon daily, by internet ‘cookies,’ by advertising, by the cameras all over our cities. In the Keystone State, the Department of Motor Vehicles has stopped issuing yearly registration stickers for vehicle license plates, and instead the police have installed scanning cameras in patrol cars, capable of scanning thousands of license plates an hour, and linked to the database which will report back of a license registration has expired. Cop shows like Blue Bloods make frequent references to the police using surveillance cameras, license plate readers and EZ Pass data to track or identify suspects. It would hardly be surprising that Pennsylvanians, who know about this due to the DMV no longer issuing license plate stickers — would be reluctant to cooperate with still more government tracking of them and intrusions into their private lives.
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¹ – The linked story concerns Facebook “banning posts that deny or distort the Holocaust and will start directing people to authoritative sources if they search for information about the Nazi genocide.” I do not in any way support Holocaust denial, and believe it is utterly stupid and intended to be anti-Semitic. However, I do not support censorship of people’s freedom of speech.
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