President Trump has been served remarkably poorly by the nation’s public health bureaucracy. Early on they bought into Armageddon-like models that showed hospitals flooding with patients; they couldn’t manage basic tasks like fielding testing kits; and utter bullsh** has been disseminated as health advice that has lead to people scrubbing down their groceries, to National Guard troops being assigned to “deep clean” nursing homes, and to the needless closure of businesses. His reluctance to say “just stop it” to the people trying to treat the nation’s citizens and economy as simply a more interesting variety of lab rat is understandable and perhaps mitigated a bit by his willingness to push back on some part of the craziness. But still, we have people who are so drunk with perceived power and definite self-importance that they are willing to do whatever it takes to impose their wishes upon 330 million people.
It turns out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been working on a plan to allow the U.S. to safely begin to scale back those policies. CDC Director Robert Redfield spoke with NPR on Thursday, saying that the plan relies on not only ramped-up testing but “very aggressive” contact tracing of those who do test positive for the coronavirus, and a major scale-up of personnel to do the necessary work.
Two thoughts here.
First, the CDC has no business making plans to open the country. These people have no legal authority to order anyone to implement any policy. They have limited legal authority over people with highly infectious diseases but they have zero authority to compel any healthy American to cooperate. Second, contact tracing of a virus that has already infected probably 30 million Americans is simply not a feasible course of action and certainly not one that is possible within the constraints of the US Constitution.
What does this contact tracing look like:
Contact tracing is the process of finding and reaching out to the contacts of someone who tests positive for an infectious pathogen. Those contacts are then quarantined or monitored, and if any of them are also positive, the process is repeated with their contacts, and on and on, until the chain of transmission is halted.
What this means is that if you happen to work in the same office, or building, or share any activity with someone who tests positive, then you can be forced into quarantine for two weeks. That includes your family. But what if you refuse to cooperate? How does this work in practice? Well, in Washington, we have an example. Under Fascist Governor Jay Inslee, people involuntarily quarantined who cooperate with the public health Gestapo get access to state employees to shop for them for food. If you don’t cooperate, you have to find your own help. The unstated policy is that they intend to starve people into submission. Beyond that, you are not allowed to know who fingered you for involuntary imprisonment. In fact, there is absolutely no safeguard against the inevitability that this will be used for harassment. All it takes is an anonymous call to the contact tracing Nazis fingering, in a non-Biden-esque way, someone as having been in contact with a known case of Wuhan and you can lock down the target for 14 days.
Redfield left the door open for contact tracing in the U.S. to employ cellphone data. “People are looking at all the different modern technology that could be brought to bear to make contact tracing more efficient and effective,” he said. “Are there more tech-savvy ways to be more comprehensive in contact tracing? Currently these things are under aggressive evaluation.”
If a federal agency using data collected by a private vendor to involuntarily deprive you of liberty and quite possibly livelihood without any semblance of due process or ability to challenge the mistakes that will happen doesn’t scare you, you probably need to think about it carefully.
This is not the Redfield’s and the CDC’s first rodeo when it comes to trying to transform its bureaucratic preferences into legal mandates. Back in April, Redfield gave an interview to the Washington Post in which he revealed that the CDC anticipated another lockdown being necessary this winter. In early May, the administration stomped on a scheme by the CDC to issue detailed plans to basically every industry type to let them know when they could ‘safely’ reopen. While these would have no legal authority, you’d have to be fairly dense not to see that if you violated those guidelines and a customer or employee caught Wuhan virus, then you’d be sued into oblivion if not actually prosecuted. What Redfield’s CDC was trying to do was use a backdoor to take control of the entire US economy for the next several months…if only that long.
When this is put into context with the way the CDC dropped the ball on developing a usable test and the contradictory information it has put out about the virus, then it is pretty clear that Redfield and his senior staff have little-to-no control over their agency and there is no sense of accountability for really bad decisions. Redfield touting this contact tracing scheme as being viable within the concept of civil liberties should be the last straw for the administration. He needs to take advantage of that enhanced unemployment compensation that he helped to make necessary and someone with a grip on reality needs to be put in charge.