The lack of proper treatment or cure has left most countries with just one tool at their disposal, contact tracing. This has proven to be successful in many regions. However, that is not the case with the U.S.
Fremont, CA: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the world. The number of cases continues to rise in various regions as global medical service providers unite in the search for a cure. A COVID-19 vaccine has become the top priority for all major pharmaceutical companies. The spread of the virus has proven nearly impossible to contain. Despite social distancing norms and no contact technologies, there are still many cases arising each day. On August 12, the U.S. reported the highest number of deaths caused by the COVID-19 since mid-May. The death toll in the country has crossed 169,000. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield believes that years of underinvestment in public health infrastructure has left the country unprepared for the most significant public health crisis.
The lack of proper treatment or cure has left most countries with just one tool at their disposal, contact tracing. This has proven to be successful in many regions. However, that is not the case with America. The Trump administration has faced severe criticism for lack of clear national strategy and funding to handle the growing pandemic. However, the lack of public trust is another reason for the failure to manage the disease. Politicizing the issue has only worsened the situation in the U.S.
The success of contact tracing as a tool is highly dependent on the people’s trust and cooperation. Understaffed health offices and a politically changing environment have made manual contact tracing even more difficult. Healthcare officials are struggling to reach out to people for contact tracing. Recent protests and civic unrest over systemic racism in the country, and the rhetoric about immigration have also made specific communities hesitant about disclosing personal information. This is where digital contact tracing has proved effective in containing the virus in many countries.
Since the outbreak of the virus, many countries have hurriedly introduced contact tracing smartphone applications that can track users’ movements through GPS, location data, and Bluetooth technology. When a person tests positive, authorities can use their mobile phone location to trace out places and people the person may have come in contact with. This enables immediate action on the part of the authorities.
However, this has raised a big question of data privacy. Since the functions of the applications involve dealing with personal information, a highly sensitive topic in a developed nation like the U.S., there has been a fair amount of resistance to technology adoption. There are also particular concerns that hacking and other unauthorized access or use of data may compromise data security and confidentiality.