Share every sharing alternatives for: NYC COVID-19 call Tracers not Asking about George Floyd Protest Participation, despite Fears of brand-new Virus wave


Over the two last weeks, mayor Bill de Blasio and also others have voiced pertains to that packed police brutality protests throughout the city could trigger a new wave the COVID-19 infections.

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Whether or not that’s the case, however, stays unknown — and de Blasio’s team i will not ~ be straight trying to find out.

The hundreds of call tracing workers hired by the city under de Blasio’s new “test and trace” campaign have been instructed not to asking anyone who tested optimistic for COVID-19 whether they recently attended a demonstration, City Hall confirmed to THE CITY.

“No person will it is in asked proactively if castle attended a protest,” Avery Cohen, a spokesperson for de Blasio, created in one emailed response to concerns by THE CITY.

Instead, test-and-trace workers ask COVID-positive individuals basic questions to aid them “recall ‘contacts’ and individuals they may have exposed,” Cohen said. Among the initial questions: “Do girlfriend live through anyone in your home?”

Tracers then ask around “close contacts” — identified as being within 6 feet of another person because that at the very least 10 minutes.

It’s approximately tested people to volunteer whether any of those close contacts developed during protests. “If a human wants to proactively offer that information, there is an possibility for lock to do so,” Cohen wrote.

The mayor announced his “test and trace” regime on may 8, promising that the city would certainly hire 1,000 “contact tracers.” City room has declined to spell the end how numerous individuals have been wondered about so far, however de Blasio promised to relax that details Monday.

Since the initiative began, public official say most — but not all — human being questioned by contact tracers have actually been cooperative. Some, however, have actually refused come volunteer any kind of information around their near contacts.

“Naturally, we have not been able to attain all information from all optimistic cases, however engagement amongst those reached is high,” Cohen wrote.

Mayor and also Gov desire to Know

There’s no direct effort to solve a concern both de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have asked repeatedly due to the fact that the demonstrations against police brutality erupted following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police: are the protests helping spread the virus?

“That’s the one change in this equation that we’re not sure of: we don’t understand what the result of those protests are,” Cuomo said last week.

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countless protesters to fill the streets around Barclays center during protests over the death of George Floyd, June 2, 2020. Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY The three-day mean percentage of new Yorkers who COVID-19 test turned out positive has dropped dramatically, from 69% on march 31 to an all-time low of 2% together of June 8.

This has occurred, in part, due to the fact that initially only people diagnosed as really sick to be tested. More recently, a much larger pool that individuals has actually been tested — consisting of those through no symptom — driving under the percent of positives.

But yes sir a growing worry the numbers can spike again, provided Phase one of the city’s reopening and also the protests.

So far, there have actually been no obvious signs of a dramatic swing. De Blasio top top Thursday announced the three-day median percentage of confident tests had actually risen slightly from 2% come 3%.

Cuomo and de Blasio discover themselves walking a tightrope, warning protesters to be aware that COVID-19 stays a very real danger to life and strongly advising all who attend demonstrations to get tested. But they are additionally steering clear of dissuading anyone indigenous participating in demonstrations.

A various Experience

A vital source the tests for the virus now is the clinical chain CityMD v 100 clinics in the city, new Jersey and also Long Island. A new Yorker who dubbed up CityMD last week to get an appointment for a check after angry a difficult line at one of the clinics called THE CITY that the CityMD staff asked the individual whether they’d to visit a protest.

CityMD public official did no respond to messages seeking comment.

In Nassau County, health officials take it a slightly various approach. If they perform not ask people who test optimistic whether they’ve to visit protests, they perform ask them whereby they’ve to be recently.


“We ask lock questions about where they’ve been so the we can gauge who might be at risk,” claimed Mary Ellen Laurain, a spokesperson for the Nassau County health and wellness Department. “It might come out as component of the interview, yet we ask an ext open-ended questions.”

Despite Cuomo’s concerns about the result of the protests, the state health and wellness Department has actually remained neutral on the issue.

Jonah Bruno, an agency spokesperson, stated, “We’re working with new York City come balance the public health priority while additionally protecting an individual privacy, together we look for to ensure a thorough call tracing regimen that helps us contain the COVID-19 virus and monitor any kind of fluctuations in the infection rate as we proceed reopening brand-new York.”

‘Treat world with Ease’

Dr. S. Patrick Kachur, a professor in ~ Columbia college Mailman school of publicly Health and also a former official at the Centers for condition Control and Prevention, said call trackers challenge a balancing act: do the efforts to acquire useful information about an infected person’s contacts without alienating them v overly intrusive questions.

Asking who if they’d gone to a protest can wind up discouraging them from gift candid in your answers, he noted.

“I think the logic has to do v the truth that contact tracing requires a strong level of trust between the interviewer and also the person they’re talk to,” the said. “It’s really necessary to have actually a good rapport and also treat civilization with ease. It’s essential to not ask inquiries that will certainly impede your capability to perform the finest job you can.”

For example, Kachur, who has been involved in call tracking throughout previous pandemics entailing the flu and Zika, detailed that once investigators space trying to monitor the spread out of HIV, tuberculosis or many diseases, they make a allude of no asking around a person’s immigration status.


And while understanding of exactly how the protests could be sparking a 2nd wave would certainly be helpful, it would be very complicated to track close contact at occasions attended by thousands of strangers, he said.

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“There’s definitely a problem that state and also city officials have actually that the protests could be a ar where transmission occurs, however that threat is reduced than household and other neighborhood contacts,” Kachur said. “And it would be really complicated to trace those contacts who you’ve to be protesting with.”

Going forward, a key question will be whether Blasio’s test-and-trace program deserve to handle the workload together increased trial and error yields an ext positive cases and much more contacts to trace.

“How well room they may be to keep up through the finish investigations that they room able come trace?” Kachur asked. “If castle have more cases than they deserve to deal with, that would certainly be concerning. It would certainly be a confusing month or 2 here.”


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