Coronavirus

COVID-19 Contact Tracers or Cootie Cops?

Tracing where people have been and who they’ve met can be effective for battling disease. But, oh boy, does it lend itself to abuse.

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As if the viral-lockdown apocalypse wasn't already weird enough, now it looks like we'll be dealing with battalions of cootie cops checking on our comings and goings. Technically, they're "contact tracers" and their jobs involve speaking with people who test positive for the novel coronavirus, identifying those to whom they may have transmitted disease, and advising self-quarantine and self-monitoring for symptoms. It's a tactic that has proven useful in other countries when properly implemented, and it's supposed to focus on actual vectors of infection rather than on whole populations. But "properly implemented" is the key here, because, oh boy, does the prospect of an army of government interrogators set loose upon the land lend itself to abuse.

Much early talk about contact tracing was on technological tools, like phone apps. Those can be helpful, but they raise privacy concerns of their own, which contribute to resistance to their use. That reluctance has revived talk of traditional contact tracing using people to identify and question anybody who tests positive. Words like battalions and army really do capture the vastness of what's being proposed.

"There are many estimates on the number of contact tracers needed to keep the virus at bay as we reopen communities," notes the National Association of County and City Health Officials. "Given global experience with contact tracing, as well as staffing needs at local, state, tribal, and territorial health departments across the many disciplines needed for contact tracing, we estimate a surge capacity of at least 100,000 individuals will be needed."

New York state's reopening guide explicitly refers to "an army of contact tracers" and sets the hiring of 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents as one criterion for permitting a region to reopen to normal social and business activity. Ultimately, the state expects to put between 6,400 and 17,000 contact tracers in place.

At ground zero for America's pandemic crisis, New York City's "'Test and Trace Corps' will launch with 1,000 contact tracers," Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week.

There is theoretically potential for doing this professionally and respectfully. The go-to trainer for many of the contact tracing programs is Johns Hopkins University, which has made itself indispensable for tracking the course of the virus. The university offers a free, online, certificate-granting course in contact tracing through Coursera. That course delves not just into the biology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the hows and whys of getting information from people, but also ethical considerations including respect for privacy.

But Johns Hopkins University isn't managing the deployment of the contact tracers it trains; that's being done by state, city, and local government agencies. And truly, there is no good idea that government officials can't turn to shit.

In the state of Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee's phased reopening plan, including an initial 1,371 contact tracers, "is raising questions about privacy rights," reports KOMO News. "The requirement that businesses keep a log of customers' names, dates and contact information is getting the most attention."

Specifically, the state requires that restaurants "create a daily log of all customers and maintain that daily log for 30 days, including telephone/email contact information, and time in. This will facilitate any contact tracing that might need to occur." That's records of all customers' information—not just those who have raised medical concerns.

"There are serious concerns with any plan that would require people to disclose their contact information and whereabouts for tracking," warns Jennifer Lee of the ACLU of Washington.

In California, Robert Levin, the director of Ventura County Public Health, went one better than Inslee. He had to apologize after a contact tracing program announcement during which, as he put it, "I gave people the impression that if you were isolated, you would be taken out of your home and put into a hotel room or a motel room or sequestered in some other way."

That's exactly the sort of "impression" that makes people reticent about volunteering the details of their shopping trips and social interactions to government-employed strangers. And, you guessed it, folks receiving official phone calls are holding back.

"Some people are a little suspicious. Some people hang up after I ask for their date of birth and address," Jana De Brauwere, a San Francisco contact tracer, told MIT Technology Review. "I understand that, the mistrust of the government, having grown up under communism. But it's too bad. I feel like they can benefit from this information: how to quarantine themselves, how they can protect their families, and what kind of support is available."

No matter how large an army of contact tracers is hired, winning people over is critical, because there is no way to make unwilling people cooperate.

"Participation in any contact tracing is voluntary, said Amy Reynolds with the state's Department of Health," KING5 reported of Washington's program. "Reynolds said while the state hopes people will cooperate to help protect the health of loved ones and others who may have been exposed, a patient has the right to refuse to share information with contact tracers."

Across the country, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is just one of many public officials begging people to cooperate with contract tracers.

But even if cooperation with contact tracers somehow became mandatory, enforcement would be a hell of a trick. There's nothing to stop people from lying to government officials they don't trust, and who continue to give the "impression" that they'll abuse any information they acquire.

"Countries with authoritarian governments or high levels of social cohesion have successfully used contact tracing, but we don't have either," bioethicist Jacob Appel told Axios.

Arguably, we do have an authoritarian government—but not one that possesses enough efficiency or enjoys enough support to make its whims stick.

So the burden is on public officials to demonstrate to our satisfaction that they're deploying an army of helpful contact tracers and not a plague of intrusive cootie cops. If they can convince the public of the wisdom of their tactics and the innocence of their intentions, maybe we can work together to resolve our health concerns.

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  1. No contact tracer is going to get within six feet of me.

    1. I’m on level 38 of the contact tracing app on my phone. I’ve beat the COVID 19 boss twice.

      Slacker.

      1. But have you beat it on mythic difficulty yet?

        1. It’s the same method you use on any difficulty. You sit and cower in a corner for 3 years until scientists invent a vaccine. You may want to make sure that you have a shit load of canned food and water stocked in your inventory. The developers didn’t plan for that before they all agreed in unison to make that the only official method to beating it that won’t get you SWAT’d.

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    2. Sure once you’re six feet under ground.

      1. It is amazing watching the stupidest among us live in such fear. Thank you Axeblood for this amazement.

        1. It’s too bad that their fears are more vaporous. Otherwise, they could be bottled and enjoyed alongside their tears.

        2. I’m not afraid of answering the phone. If I got sick with sick I would call every mfer I had contacted to tell them man be on the lookout. That’s what friends do. You mfers probably don’t have friends so this is a foreign idea to you.

          1. Both people will probably ask you to stop calling them.

            1. God damn. You crushed that one.

            2. And of course, 1 of them’s going to be his mom.

              1. Can’t he just yell to her up the basement stairs?

          2. When you hear a very loud, persistent knock on your door, Axe, don’t answer it. Pretend you’re not home, that’s what I do, every time.

          3. “I’m not afraid of answering the phone.”

            Cowardly piece of lefty shit.

            1. My phone’s ringer is turned off. It’s not that I am afraid or not to answer the phone, it’s because of all the spam calls we all get.

              And if all this stuff is voluntary…. My name is John Doe, this is my wife Mary and our two kids Dick and Jane. We left our dog Spot at home. We live at 123 Main St, Anytown, USA. I’m sorry, we don’t have e-mail.

          4. Yeah, I’m sure the BatCoof Financial Scam Team is grateful for this knowledge.

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    4. I do not mind, my name is Fred Flint and my number is (911) 911-9111. They can call me anytime they want, day or night.

  2. The contact tracing paradigm will not be limited to COVID-19. Once the ball gets rolling, there’ll be contact tracing for cold, flu, and every pesky sexually transmitted disease, etc. And, naturally, the contact tracers will be imbued the power to investigate and/or detain individuals on suspicion of other crimes discovered during their contact tracing activities.

    “There’s no reason the police should turn a blind eye to the obvious utility available here. Public health doesn’t mean we ignore crime. People should welcome the enhanced security measures, which will reduce the burden on an already strained police force. If you have nothing to hide, you need not be concerned.”

    Expect a plethora of new civil forfeiture laws and regulations to be put in place to ensure cooperation with contact tracers.

    “Don’t want to comply? Fine. We’ll place a freeze on your bank account and withdraw fines (that will double every day) until you do. Fail to cooperate? We can commence proceeding in family court for the state to place your children in protective custody. We don’t want to do any of these things, but sometimes you have to take a firm stance for the greater good.”

    Can the government convince people to permit such a system? Most likely, yes. The blue states will be at the front of the line. The residents will cheer, and bang pots and pans to celebrate the army of tracers descending upon them every evening.

    1. Will they wear brown uniforms with armbands?

      1. Or be known as the “Safety Supervisors”?

      2. Brown is far too gendered. I’m thinking solid gray, with rainbow armbands.

        1. Rainbow is way inclusive but when they do send out the boys from ‘Public Health and Safety’, they’ll all be in their exclusive shade of black.

    2. And, naturally, the contact tracers will be imbued the power to investigate and/or detain individuals on suspicion of other crimes discovered during their contact tracing activities.

      I think this is cart before the horse. They’ve already got investigative and punitive powers, this will just be an expansion of them. They’ll mandate deadbeat dads, people on the sex offender registry, and parolees keep contact tracing apps on their phones because, fuck those people. Then it will be a relatively standard part of custody hearings, because it’s not invasion of privacy when the state is acting on behalf of a mother who just happens to be an ex-wife…

      Somewhere in the mid-to-late 2030s it will be revealed that the FBI has undeniable proof that a Presidential candidate’s contact trace leads back to Russian hookers.

      1. That made me laugh, and cry a little bit. Fucking shit.

      2. fuck those people

        Why stop there? Contact tracing apps should be mandatory for welfare recipients too, and students at public schools and universities, and workers in any government licensed profession. It will be mandatory to register your contact tracing app to enter government buildings or board mass transportation.

        Just don’t expect police or the politicians of whichever team is in power to be subject to anything like that. I imagine the police will continue wearing masks as they do now but expand it into a sort of “official police safety mask” that happens to cover up all identifying features, so if you feel you may need to “contact trace” which cop beat you up that may become fairly difficult.

        1. I’ve suggested many times that welfare recipients be treated to the exact same protocol that CCW applicants are: show up in person at the provide 2 forms of approved photo ID, proof of citizenship AND residency, finger-printing, submital of information and fingerprints for wants/warrants trace and future identification (CODIS), ask them all those invasive questions found of Form 4473. Because they’re applying for welfare, we’ll waive the customary non-trivial fees that CCW applicants usually have to pay.

      3. lo. oh geez.

    3. “Can the government convince people to permit such a system? Most likely, yes.”

      Sounds like the finest health care system in the world is about to get a whole lot better!

      1. No dental, though. That defeats the purpose of bashing your teeth in as a deterrent.

        1. Save your threats for your loved ones. They make a much more convenient target.

          1. They all died from COVID. Killer virus, and all. You know?

            1. We have always been at war with COVID.

    4. The real problem is scope creep. The CDC was set up in the wake of Spanish Flu, and within 70 years had expanded its role to tracking drinking, obesity and gun violence.

      What exactly will 10,000 New York contact tracers be doing while they wait for the next COVID outbreak? Going to bars to track drunk drivers?

      1. What do you mean “next” COVID outbreak? The “outbreak” is never going to end. And, if it ever does, it will a “killer” cold, or a “deadly” flu, or some resurgent form of syphilis that rots your brain until you’re basically Joe Biden.

        As long as pathogens exist, there will always be a need for contact tracers. This is the frontier of “new” medicine. The outbreaks will never end.

        1. Until we’re basically Joe Biden? Meaning we’ll all have a shot at the presidency of a major country?

          1. With that kind of logical thinking and obvious wit? Shit. You can do anything you want to do, kid.

          2. Joe Biden? This Joe Biden?

            “We’re … in the middle of a pandemic that has cost us more than 85,000 jobs as of today. Lives of millions of people. Millions of people. Millions of jobs. You know, and we’re in a position where, you know we just got new unemployment insurance, this morning, uh, numbers — 36.5 million claims since this crisis began.”

            https://disrn.com/news/biden-struggles-badly-during-virtual-round-table-as-gaffes-continue-to-pile-up

            1. Who the hell is coaching Biden? Bush jr?

              1. The brain tumor.

      2. Well, in the last 15 years or so we’ve had SARS, Zika, bird flu, swine flu (H1N1), MERS. I’m sure they’ll be a never-ending body of “public servants” that can only ratchet one way: bigger and more intrusive.

    5. I believe the Authoritarian Fauci tried this during the aids scare and the courts shot him down, hope they are still wise but since it involves white heterosexual Trump voters I’m sure they will be okay with it.

    6. Remember when contact tracing was suggested for HIV? That was roundly condemned as homophobic, as I recall. But the same people who screamed about THAT tracing will be the ones signing up to wear the brown shirts that will surely be issued to the Contact Tracing Corps.

    7. “We can commence proceeding in family court for the state to place your children in protective custody. ”

      As I understand that part has already started.

  3. Tracing where people have been and who they’ve met can be effective for battling disease. But, oh boy, does it lend itself to abuse.

    I’m going to assume Tuccille wrote a real sub along the lines of “Tracing where people have been and who they’ve met can be an effective tool for social control that has the benefit of being sold as battling the spread of disease.” and the narrative shaping AI that reason runs all of its stories through churned out the above.

  4. Fuck your contact tracing. NO. Full stop.

  5. Here’s actual fucking abuse not some imaginary bs:

    As it headed toward bankruptcy, Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. took advantage of a little-noticed provision in the stimulus bill Congress passed in March to get a $9.7 million tax refund. Then, it asked a bankruptcy judge to authorize the same amount as bonuses to nine executives.

    1. Notice this was government-inspired, government-enabled, government-induced. If you are blaming this on the evil corporation, you are as wrong as the idiots who forget that slavery, Jim Crow, and affirmative action are all government-mandated bigotry.

      1. Republican governance.

        1. Top infected States:
          New York (1.79%)
          New Jersey (1.61%)
          Massachusetts (1.16%)
          Rhode Island (1.14%)
          Connecticut (0.98%)
          Washington, D.C. (0.95%)
          Delaware (0.74%)
          Louisiana (0.72%)
          Illinois (0.67%)
          Maryland (0.60%)

          Cases per million.

          Yeap, definitely the republicans.

          Do you want the map of states vs lockdown orders?

          You seem really ignorant Pod Jr.

          1. You can lay out murders per capita like that too. Lines up nicely with cities that have been under Democratic thralldom for last 50 years, too.

        2. You think republicans control the house?

        3. “Republican governance.”

          Fucking lefty ignoramus.

    2. Keep arguing for ever larger and more authoritarian government. I’m sure it will eventually get big enough to stomp out these kinds of abuses.

    3. This must be a parody account.

  6. Everyone who is confronted by a tracer should name the local mayor, d.a., police chief, anchorperson, Karen, and journalist as someone with whom they’ve made contact.

    1. Oh that would be brutal! You’d have to answer the phone or you know not answer the phone.

    2. “I have no recollection of where I’ve been or who I’ve met. Been sick with a deadly virus, you know.”

    3. Point out the obvious: you have been in contact with the contact tracer.

      1. Only on the telephone

        If we find out you can get COVID-19 from a phone call, we are in serious trouble.

        I would bet that virtually all people who died of COVID-19 received a phone call within 14 days of becoming sick.

        I think that completely explains community spread

    4. That’s a winner!

  7. Who will trace the tracers, who by definition contact people with the bug?

    Think of the JOBS!

  8. You fuckers seriously wouldn’t want to know if you’ve be holding hands with the plague? If you’re using a cell phone or a computer you’ve already decided your privacy is negotiable. Why this? It’s just fucking mindless stupidity.

    1. You’re just begging to be named as my contact when they get in touch.

      1. Okay, this was funny. I’ll give a kudos when deserved.

      2. Here you are willing to risk getting sued and outted for a game but you’re unwilling to participate in the very same activity for a the purpose preventing the spread of a disease that has killed basically suffocated to death 85k Americans in 2 months. This is a perfect illustration of just what you people are.

        1. Best parody account yet.

          1. Tony’d better up his game. This new troll’s way ahead in the “Reason” Stupid Olympics, Bootlicking category

        2. Seems to me that requiring COVID positive patients to be admitted to nursing homes has manufactured a lot of the deaths you are intimating are spread by casual contact.

          But by all means, keep lying, I assume its as involuntary to you as breathing at this point. Although it would be nice if you would cease doing one or the other.

    2. LOL

    3. Your irrational idiotic fear is far greater stupidity. Please, continue giving up your freedoms for imagined safety against mild risks.

      1. I’m not afraid of a telephone call. I’m the pussy though. Shouldn’t you be screaming and whining at some state capitol building dressed up as a toy solider. You mfers are the pussies. Weird paranoia projecting pussy.

        1. Keep digging buddy. Prove to everyone you’re the rational one. LOL.

        2. You’re also a faggot.

          1. Damn you couldn’t resist. You had to prove you’re a bigot.

            1. Wrong.

              I love faggots. You’re a bigot for assuming I’m a bigot. Bigot.

              1. Go home you’re drunk.

                1. I’m drunk. And at home. I can call you, if you prefer. We can have a more intimate exchange.

                  1. this is hilarious

                2. Why so faggoty Axeblood?

        3. You keep dissing pussy. We love pussy. Stop it.

        4. You’re the sort of fucktard – to which dumb laws arise to protect the incorrigibly stupid – who goes on TV running to the media because you got your life savings taken through telephone scams.

          If you haven’t figured out that scammers are going to pretend to be public health officials to extract info. then there’s literally nothing we can do to protect losers like you.

          All we can do is hand out helmets to the sheep and wish them luck.

        5. “…I’m the pussy though…”

          Yes, you are.

    4. You fuckers seriously wouldn’t want to know if you’ve be holding hands with the plague?

      If I never put down my whiskey or my cigar, I never have to worry about holding hands with the plague.

    5. When you find the plague instead of a cold bug, let us know
      Pussy

    6. You mean a disease which I, as person who is under the age of 65 and has none of the underlying conditions that are MARKEDLY (like 85%+) associated with fataility of COVID, have virtualy nothing to fear?

      If you locked me in a small room with 10 COVID-positive people for several hours, my biggest COVID-related question would be “will I be among the 50% or so for whom infection goes entirely unnoticed? Or will I be in the 40% or so who will have very mild flu-like symptoms? Or will I be in the 9% that have severe flu-like symptoms but which resolve without any real concern? Because chances are damn good that I will NOT be in the tiny fraction of other-wise healthy people who are under the age of 65 who get very sick and need hospitalization, and the smaller fraction of THOSE people who actually die. Because that could happen from the common flu, too.”

      And then I’d consider that my 84-year-old MIL lives at my house, and I’d probably be kind to her and try to mitigate the risk my infection might present to her (not to me). OTOH, she’s already told me directly, “if I get it and it kills me, something had to.”

  9. Contact tracing cannot be anonymous. Anyone who thinks a contact tracing app can be anonymous is a fool.

    1. You can make a contact tracing app anonymous. However the temptation to lie and merely say it is anonymous is probably too much for an app builder to resist.

      1. You can make a contact tracing app anonymous.

        IDK, you’re getting into zero knowledge territory. I know your age and gender demographics, everyone you’ve associated with for the last 6 mos. to a year or longer, your immediate medical history… but don’t worry, your name and driver’s license number are totally uknown to me. Having never laid eyes on you, I couldn’t find you if I tried.

        1. A contact tracing app does not need to have medical history or anything like that. It just needs a rotating cryptographic key, and the ability to store the public keys of phones it has been near in the previous N days.

          1. Is there an anti-naivety app available yet?

            1. ~~googles~~

          2. It has to end up identifying specific humans so those humans can be treated, and their contacts similarly traced. It always has to end up at real humans, one way or another. Otherwise it is literally useless.

          3. You’re retarded. Crypto isn’t magic. If they’re rotating, they have to keep some sort of TTL and encode some real-world record of the device that generated them and, ultimately, as Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf points out, at some point it has to link to someone who has a/the disease.

            Otherwise, you’ve got a cryptographic ‘most useless machine’ and:

            while true
            do
            echo $RANDOM
            sleep 5
            clear
            done

            On just about any Linux system will solve your problem.

      2. No you cannot make a contact tracing app anonymous. By definition, it needs to identify who you have had contact with. Whether that identify is your phone number, your name, or some random number, it still has to be connected with a real live person who you can quarantine or vaccinate or cure.

        A contact ID by any other name would smell as dictatorial.

        1. True ‘in both directions’. The more anonymous you make it, the more worthless it becomes at doing what it’s claimed to

    2. Pretty much by definition it can’t be anonymous..

      1. Yes, it can. Two phones can mutually agree on a “nearbye me” event and store those events. That event doesn’t say anything about who you are, where you are, what you are doing or anything. It is just a unique ID that I came in range of another phone.

        Later if I come down with a virus, I can publish to a server all of the “at risk” events. And the other app, checks the server periodically and sees an event that it was party to, and notifies its owner.

        The nearest thing you have to knowing someone is connections to the server, which can be anonymized in multiple ways.

        1. The government has never been known to engage in spying or surveillance the average citizen cannot foil.

        2. The only point of tracing contacts is to test and/or treat those humans who have been in contact with other, infected, humans. It has to end up identifying real people, so the live ones can be treated. That end goal is the only goal. Similarly tracing those you came in contact with is not the end game; it is only a repeat of the intermediate game, and the end game remains to find real live humans to test and/or treat.

          You act as if this is some sort of Pokemon Go game, to trace anonymous people, and that’s it: no other goal. It is not. You are wrong. It is not a game, its only end goal is to test and/or treat infected people, and that requires identifying real people, not anonymous Pokemon Go player IDs.

          1. “The only point of tracing contacts is to test and/or treat those humans who have been in contact with other, infected, humans. It has to end up identifying real people, so the live ones can be treated.”

            If my phone tells me that I had an “at risk” interaction, I can go to my local testing facility and get tested. I can then decide what to do with those results. That could be “continue to be an asshole” or it could also be, “Self isolate, and notify my contact tracing app that I tested positive”.

            Notice that in such a completely voluntary system, nobody is identified to anybody. I don’t know who was “at risk” only that my phone was near them. And if I get tested and find myself testing positive, nobody but me and the tester knows that I tested positive. And if I tell my contact tracing app that I tested positive, then the cycle repeats. Nobody knows who tested positive.

            Sure, there are plenty of ways the government could interfere here. My point is that there is a useful contact tracing system that can be completely voluntary AND anonymous.

            1. You are a fucking lying statist and you know it. You slavers have no respect for individuality. You assume individuals are skanks, selfish, greedy, and absolutely unwilling to take any personal responsibility. That is what statism is all about.

              And now you claim to believe that individuals will gladly self-report and self-quarantine?

              And on top of that, you claim t believe no government will ever take advantage of all those contact logs to track down other criminals, especially the ones without victims which scare governments so much, like reporters and critics and political opponents?

              Fuck off, slaver.

        3. One hallmark of statism is its universal contempt for individuals acting responsibly. You write words as if you think identifying real people is unnecessary because people will act responsibly once their phone tells them they came in contact with an infected person a week ago. You are a fraud. You do not believe anyone will ever act responsibly; you are a statist, and believing that people could act responsibly would undermine every aspect of statism.

          You also write words as if no government will ever have any interest in taking a peek at those contact logs for other purposes, such as tracking drug dealers, pedophiles, sex workers, or (gasp!) journalists or critics. You are again a liar. Every statist wants the government to track its enemies, because every statist is deluded enough to imagine themselves at the helm of government and immune to its thugs.

          Fuck off, slaver.

          1. “One hallmark of statism is its universal contempt for individuals acting responsibly….You are a fraud. You do not believe anyone will ever act responsibly; you are a statist, and believing that people could act responsibly would undermine every aspect of statism.”

            Where did I ever, in the system I proposed, suggest that people would NOT act responsibly. In fact the system that I proposed doesn’t work if people don’t act responsibly. It only works if people are notified that they had contact, and then go the next step to get tested. So if I was really a statist, I would never have proposed it. Please read the words I am saying, rather than imputing thoughts inside my head.

            “You also write words as if no government will ever have any interest in taking a peek at those contact logs for other purposes, such as tracking drug dealers, pedophiles, sex workers, or (gasp!) journalists or critics.”

            Ok, so I see the problem here. You do not understand what I wrote. The contact logs DO NOT CONTAIN ANYTHING IDENTIFIABLE. Go read up on cryptographic signing. Hell read about Block chains. This is a very similar system, with a key difference. In cryto-currency, you need to assign and track money to an “anonymous” wallet. As soon as someone can link that wallet to you, they can see all your transactions. But in a contact-tracing situation, there is no unique identifier. Your phone never provides anything except a unique TRANSACTION ID. If the government nabs some guy’s phone, all they have are a bunch of transaction IDs. They don’t know where those happened. They don’t know who the other end of the transaction was. It is only the other phone that knows the transaction ID is relevant because it stored that ID.

            1. You don’t understand basic logic. The contact logs have to eventually lead to actual human beings who can be tested, treated, and quarantined AGAINST THEIR WILL.

              Actual. Humans. Involuntarily. Coercively.

              You are a damn fool if you think you are fooling anyone.

              Fuck off, slaver.

              1. “You don’t understand basic logic. The contact logs have to eventually lead to actual human beings who can be tested, treated, and quarantined AGAINST THEIR WILL.”

                NO THEY DON’T. That is the entire point of the system design. By design, it is completely anonymous. Look at it this way. Imagine if you opened up the newspaper and read a notice that said “If you were at Starbucks on 1st and main between 1pm and 2pm yesterday, you may have come in contact with an infected person”. Notice that there is NO information in that transaction log that can be traced to a person. Only the reader knows if it applies to them or not. In order to force or coerce people, you would need to intercept the anonymous reporter of that notice but you still wouldn’t know the other side of it- the people who read it and realized it pertains to them.

                This system is like that except on a massive scale, and even location is NOT reported. It’s just “Transaction 15111232342 was at risk”. Every phone can see that, but only one phone will know that it matters.

                Could the government pass laws that work around that system to be coercive? Of course. But the app itself would be useless to them. If they wanted to track your location and force you to do stuff, they would EXPLICITLY design an App that works totally different- sending information to a central data warehouse.

                1. “By design, it’s completely anonymous” bullshit. If it were not traceable back to a human being, it would be worthless. It cannot depend on fallible humans, it must depend on the coercive state. Statists would never be content to leave the logs fallow until an epidemic hit; they would always find some victimless crime against the State which needed those logs.

                  You have not addressed a single one of these points. You cannot. You are a statist through and through.

                  Fuck off, slaver.

                  1. You can tell he’s full of shit computationally and biologically/epidemiologically when he says, “This system is like that except on a massive scale, and even location is NOT reported. It’s just “Transaction 15111232342 was at risk”. Every phone can see that, but only one phone will know that it matters.” if system is going to model/trace infectious diseases in even a trivial manner, at least two nodes (and likely more) will need to know what that *trans*action *ID* means, whether one node is ‘the system’ and one is the phone or it’s two phones is immaterial. Me knowing I’m sick is a model of disease, but not infectious disease.

                    He’s basically invented an imaginary data type that stores less information than a linked list, is less centrally controlled than a hash table, and is less tractable than either one. Unless you would need to send a signal to nodes on the list or keys in the table, then it’s just like a hash table or linked list.

                    1. ” if system is going to model/trace infectious diseases in even a trivial manner, at least two nodes (and likely more) will need to know what that *trans*action *ID* means, whether one node is ‘the system’ and one is the phone or it’s two phones is immaterial. Me knowing I’m sick is a model of disease, but not infectious disease.”

                      I am not trying to model a fucking disease![*]

                      I am trying to devise a system where people can anonymously notify others that they are at risk. That’s it. Once they know they are at risk, they can decide what to do. There is no need for a central view of what is going on, because in a libertarian world, there is no central authority that NEEDS a central view of what is going on. The purpose of contact tracing is to identify who is at risk, to test them, and then isolate them. If you are going to do that by force, then sorry my system is not for you. If you are going to encourage a voluntary network of this, then this is how you do it.

                      * = You actually could model the virus if, say, the same linking were embedded in businesses. If those businesses voluntarily decided to share this information publicly, then you could tie spreading to locations. You still don’t know WHO was at the business, only that someone testing positive was there. And the business has given up its anonymity for…some reason? If I was a business, I don’t think I’d want people to know I was visited by an infectious person…

                    2. I am not trying to model a fucking disease![*]

                      Yes, you are. Otherwise, you’re making Twitter, Bitcoin, Facebook, or a Search Engine or some other software that doesn’t try to faithfully follow infectious disease. COVID and the people who catch it don’t exist as software, you’re trying to create software that effectively emulates or models the disease. You said it yourself this problem/issue isn’t novel.

                      I am trying to devise a system where people can anonymously notify others that they are at risk. That’s it.

                      That exists redundantly already. It’s called the news media and autodialers. What you’re really trying to do is create a high fidelity trustless system that accurately informs people about the spread of disease without effectively being associated or associable with the disease or anyone who has it.

                      There is no need for a central view, but there is a need for a coherent view if it is to be developed, shared, and used socially. Just because you can type the words ‘invisible’ and ‘pink’ doesn’t mean people can interpret and fulfill your wish for an invisible pink anything.

                  2. “You have not addressed a single one of these points. You cannot. You are a statist through and through.

                    Fuck off, slaver.”

                    Fuck you. I am literally trying to offer a voluntary way for people to anonymously share that they have tested positive and you may be at risk. It is not perfect. And fallible, selfish persons may fail to use it.

                    THAT DOESN’T MAKE ME A SLAVER.

                    The only person talking about coercion is you. You are the one who seems to think that the only way such a system could be useful is by coercing. Why? I don’t know. I *do* know that when this virus started, people all around me- from businesses that changed how they operate to friends who notified others that they were sick- voluntarily made changes to limit the spread of the virus.

                    Staying at home when sick will limit the spread of the disease. I am not a slaver for pointing that out, because I am not calling on the government to force people to stay at home. Notifying people you came in contact with will limit the spread of the disease. I am not a slaver for pointing that out, because I am not calling on the government to force this.

              2. Despite the phenomenal utility and relative real-world and technological ease of developing an HIV tracking app, no one, including Overt, has apparently done it.

                It should be perfectly simple. Your phone simply stores the IDs provided by other phones you’ve been in proximity with and, once you identify as HIV positive, notifies all the phones that have been in your vicinity that you are HIV positive. Now, presumably, you would want it to notify phones in your vicinity that you haven’t come across before and you would want the notifications to go out if it was you, your physician, or your next of kin who discovers that you died of HIV. But, because cryptography, that’s not an issue. Between the ciphers and the algorithms, everyone will know exactly who has HIV and who doesn’t at all times. Easy peasy.

                I’m sure that with all of his business and technical acumen, Overt, would willingly stake his reputation on not just the usefulness and accuracy but the incorruptibility of such an application as well. He’s a crypto genius who’s got the whole infectious disease tracking concept locked down tight as a drum.

                1. “Despite the phenomenal utility and relative real-world and technological ease of developing an HIV tracking app, no one, including Overt, has apparently done it.”

                  HIV would be tricky since it isn’t just “we came near each other”. It is really “We had sex” or some other way swapped blood. It is kind of hard to be anonymous in such a situation. Like, you receive a notification “Someone you had sex with in the last 3 weeks has tested positive for HIV”?

                  And, frankly, the spread rate is so slow that traditional contact tracing hasn’t been needed.

                  “Now, presumably, you would want it to notify phones in your vicinity that you haven’t come across before and you would want the notifications to go out if it was you, your physician, or your next of kin who discovers that you died of HIV.”

                  I’m not sure which problems you are trying to solve for here. I am proposing a voluntary system to allow people to know if they are at risk so that they can be tested, and then voluntarily take actions to reduce the spread.

                  As I noted above, HIV is a bit different since spreading interactions generally aren’t anonymous. But in general, I am not trying to solve for “I know I am infected, please continue to notify those around me.” Once you test positive, you don’t go around with a badge on- you take the precautions necessary to limit spread. In the case of COVID, it might be self isolation. In the case of HIV, it would be “don’t have unprotected sex”, or whatever.

                  1. “And, frankly, the spread rate is so slow that traditional contact tracing hasn’t been needed.”

                    I mean, the spread rate is so slow that traditional contact tracing is all that has been needed.

                  2. HIV would be tricky since it isn’t just “we came near each other”. It is really “We had sex” or some other way swapped blood. It is kind of hard to be anonymous in such a situation. Like, you receive a notification “Someone you had sex with in the last 3 weeks has tested positive for HIV”?

                    Actually, HIV would conform more to your model than COVID does. You either have HIV or you don’t. Even if you have sex with multiple partners, which you can’t be so stupid as to pretend it can’t be done ‘anonymously’, you can still usually elucidate the order in which they participated. So, even if you do participate in A -> B and C, it’s easier to reduce back to A -> B, then A -> C. Moreover, the chain or network over which the “You might have HIV.” message needs to travel would be more exactingly controlled and maintained relative to the network of “Anybody and everybody I was within arms reach of or who touched stuff that I touched.” network.

                    Once you test positive, you don’t go around with a badge on- you take the precautions necessary to limit spread.

                    So your system is fully automagic and overcomes any lag between notification and testing or isolation too? Pray tell Mr. Babbage, does it solve all the logistical problems of any care you may need when self-isolating as well?

                    The more you talk, the more it sounds like “Struggle no more! I’m here to solve it with algorithms!

              3. My bad, I used the term “ID”, but these “IDs” uniquely identify any given device in the network or contact chain but they’re cryptographically generated, which means they don’t identify any given device in the network or contact chain. I should’ve said “Random character strings that may or may not uniquely identify other devices on the network.”

            2. But in a contact-tracing situation, there is no unique identifier. Your phone never provides anything except a unique TRANSACTION ID. If the government nabs some guy’s phone, all they have are a bunch of transaction IDs. They don’t know where those happened. They don’t know who the other end of the transaction was. It is only the other phone that knows the transaction ID is relevant because it stored that ID.

              Again, you’re an idiot. Now, you’re asserting not just anonymity but anonymity *and* secrecy. You can’t fundamentally know everyone, either by device or by physical persona, to notify and simultaneously be unaware of everyone who needs notifying. Either there’s a central repository for all transaction IDs and a tractable distribution network, which makes them functionally identical to a wallet or the system is completely decentralized and the people you infect will only get notifications when they stumble back acrosss your signal area and your/their phone exchange recognizable IDs. Even in the latter situation, the IDs are physically tractable between phones even if there is not central network.

              You’re lying through your teeth about things you don’t understand.

              1. “Again, you’re an idiot. ”

                Jesus fucking christ, why don’t you people calm the fuck down? I have politely tried to discuss a technical solution to a very reasonable problem, and you people are acting like children.

                This isn’t a novel problem. It is a problem that needs to be solved for things like point-to-point communications, espionage, software licensing, voting and even online advertising. I have been working on problems like these for 20 fucking years. I have been on this site for nearly 15 of those years and you can see that I do not love government.

                “You can’t fundamentally know everyone, either by device or by physical persona, to notify and simultaneously be unaware of everyone who needs notifying.”

                You don’t need to “know” anybody. All you need to know is that you had an interaction. Let me try one more time to simplify this.

                Person A and Person B go into a confession chamber. They cannot see one another. Person A says “Foo” and person B says “Bar”. They now have a mutual code word, “Foobar”. That is it. Person B writes “Foobar” in his log book and goes to the next booth where he gets the code “Orange-bananna”. He writes that down. And in the next booth he and the person derive “Glub-Sparkles” as their code word.

                A week later, on the radio Person B hears “Foobar” broadcast. He still knows nothing about Person A. And no one except Person B and Person A know the code word “foobar”. So then Person B goes and broadcasts “Glub-Sparkles” and “Orange-Bananna” notifying the other people about the interaction.

                Now scale this up- instead of a simple word, you exchange cryptographic secrets. Now there isn’t even a chance of someone just guessing the word “foo-bar” and broadcasting it.

                This is a trustless system. If you compromise the servers, you cannot counterfeit the signed transaction IDs. If you compromise Person A, you don’t know person B. The worst you could do is falsely publish the event as “At Risk”. In order for the government to know this, they need to have both person A and Person B identified and their phone data- at which point they could be doing all this without the system in the first place.

                Yes, there are risks with tracing the connection between the phone and the server, and there are risks at the phone level. I totally agree. But those are risks introduced from other vectors, not the contact tracing program (and they are risks that are regularly mitigated by TOR, VPN, encryption and other ways). And, as I noted above, if the government has compromised your phone, they don’t need a contact tracing app- your phone is doing it for them.

                1. Jesus fucking christ, why don’t you people calm the fuck down?

                  It is in no way upsetting to me that you’re an idiot.

                  Person A and Person B go into a confession chamber. They cannot see one another. Person A says “Foo” and person B says “Bar”. They now have a mutual code word, “Foobar”. That is it. Person B writes “Foobar” in his log book and goes to the next booth where he gets the code “Orange-bananna”. He writes that down. And in the next booth he and the person derive “Glub-Sparkles” as their code word.

                  I’m glad you simplified it. It makes it easier to point out to you your own idiocy. Either both Person A *and* person B write down ‘Foobar’ or someone provides person A and person B with an approved list of code words of which ‘Foobar’ is one. Otherwise, the radio broadcaster cannot know to broadcast ‘Foobar’ as person B is the only person who knows the code word. At best they can only, presumably, broadcast ‘foo’. Unless both A and B have a log with ‘foobar’ written in it. Moreover, your model assumes that persons A, B, and Others sit down in a confessional serially and know how to encode the responses in the correct order and/or that logging them serially when the phenomenon being modeled may not be serial is immaterial. If A and B both log foobar and the actual transmission mode is A -> C -> B or even A -> B *and* C your queue model is worthless.

                  You’re mistaken if you think information flow in a zero-knowledge protocol is one-directional or can be made and kept as such. I’m no expert on Hawking’s theories but I believe it violates a fundamental law of physics.

                  If you’ve been working in crypto for 15 yrs. I’d recommend you don’t quit your day job. Unless it is your day job.

        4. This is getting dumb. You can’t have a *contact* *tracing* app that’s incapable of *tracing* *contacts*. The ‘nearby me’ events will have to be time stamped and have to record which two or more devices were present. The individual users may not be able to identify other users, but whomever’s operating the network will, by necessity, have total visibility. When an infection occurs, the software will *have to be able* to trace back along those connections for an arbitrary length in time. Otherwise, the app won’t work or do what it’s supposed to do.

          Also, this completely ignores the number/amount of people who refuse or are unable to participate, as well as infectious modalities that effectively make the app useless.

        5. “””It is just a unique ID that I came in range of another phone. “””

          Not just another phone, a specific phone that the encounter can be traced back to.

  10. From what I’m seeing and even experiencing myself is that people are siding right back into old habits which leads me to believe this virus is coming back this fall and it’s going to be just as bad or worse.

    1. So nothing to worry about then.

      1. Are you kidding? You might get a telephone call this winter. The horror.

        1. And a knock at the door in the middle of the night. That’s what happens when you scratch your address into public bathroom stalls …

        2. As if the government has never abused its subjects with SWAT teams and no-knock raids, with the excuse that you can’t expect those highly trained SWAT members to just sit around idle until a real hostage situation arises.

        3. I dont live in a nursing home. I’m not over 60. I’m not a fat alcoholic.

          Nothing to worry about.

    2. Freedom is a nasty habit.

    3. old habits
      Like going to their jobs and having a social life? Losers

    4. Somebody had mentioned this on a thread weeks ago: at some point we’re going to run out of half-dead 85 year olds for this virus to prey on. The “second wave” will not be as bad or worse than now.

      1. The third and fourth waves have historically done the trick.

  11. Funny we don’t trust our government that lies about spying on us. The Senate had a chance to help rebuild that trust with Rand’s amendment to effectively end FISA and they passed. So I’ll pass.

  12. “There are serious concerns with any plan that would require people to disclose their contact information and whereabouts for tracking,” warns Jennifer Lee of the ACLU of Washington.

    They would look into it further, but their attorneys are busy suing the Secretary of Education for applying due process on college campuses.

  13. No matter how large an army of contact tracers is hired, winning people over is critical, because there is no way to make unwilling people cooperate.

    How the EVERLIVING FUCK does a statement like this appear in an ostensibly libertarian publication? I’m ashamed just to have read it.

    1. I don’t see the issue? Voluntary cooperation is a stronger force then government dictates; that is how I read it anyway.

      1. The point is that a supposedly libertarian publication should be protesting the very concept of contact tracers, particularly government-employed contract tracers, not advocating for methods to softening up the populace and soliciting their meek cooperation.

        1. Exactly.

        2. Thanks for clarifying. I see your point. I think JD’s “softening up” though would reflect a more libertarian view though; not lying constantly to your citizens about government data collection (and ending NSA data collection), not pushing them around with arbitrary dictates… I could go on and on.

  14. This is very, very hilarious, Reason.

    At the very beginning of this pandemic, it was Soave, Sollum and Bailey explaining that we could have avoided this mess if only we had a good test and trace program in place. But BAD GOVERNMENT did not have the programs in place.

    And now we see what would have happened had Trump been going door to door interviewing everyone about their travels-Articles from 2-C complaining about the tyrannical invasion of our privacy.

    I think this shows two things- one, that Reason in fact has multiple viewpoints (something that many commenters forget), but also two- that it is very easy for libertarians to offer hot takes on what government is really doing wrong, but much harder to articulate a libertarian solution.

    1. I think this shows two things- one, that Reason in fact has multiple viewpoints (something that many commenters forget), but also two- that it is very easy for libertarians to offer hot takes on what government is really doing wrong, but much harder to articulate a libertarian solution.

      Occam’s Razor. They’re offering multiple libertarian viewpoints that all just happen to converge on shitty “We need better TOP MEN!” hot takes or, they just aren’t libertarian. Sure, Reason could have an elaborate, well thought out, and well executed plan to generate the finest artisanal libertarian news that just happens to routinely produce garbage as a by product but, odds are, its just the same garbage generation process the other trash news outlets use.

      1. Damnit, will you say it right? Top. Men.

  15. “…. across the many disciplines needed for contact tracing, we estimate a surge capacity of at least 100,000 individuals will be needed.”

    Start with the Missouri snitch list. I’m sure you can find a bunch there. Also, ask Garcetti. He asked citizens to snitch so he may have a list too.

  16. Specifically, the state requires that restaurants “create a daily log of all customers and maintain that daily log for 30 days, including telephone/email contact information, and time in. This will facilitate any contact tracing that might need to occur.” That’s records of all customers’ information—not just those who have raised medical concerns.”

    I would literally never go to a restaurant again. No way would I want my name on a list for 30 days. Are you fucken stupid?

    Trade away your rights for safety you stupid sheep.

    1. I would literally never go to a restaurant again. No way would I want my name on a list for 30 days. Are you fucken stupid?

      I’d give it a week before every log book was filled with Tyler Durdens, G. Fawkes, Robert Roys, Susan B.s, and J.D. Arcs. All 10,000 of them able to found or reached at 1060 W. Addison.

      1. Here are a few more for some help

        1313 mockingbird lane
        1 cemetery st
        742 evergreen terrace
        129w 81st street apt 5a
        508 saint cloud road
        342 gravel pit terrace

        1. 123 Fake Street is in same town as 742 Evergreen Terrace

          1. Knifey-wifey. Classic.

      2. 123 Sesame Street.

    2. My name is John Galt, I do not use email, I do not have a cell phone, I only pay with cash.
      (and, oh by the way, as a matter of principle, I do not patronize restaurants that ask for personal information)

    3. Well, for the ‘illusion’ of safety, anyways.

    4. I already don’t want to go to a restaurant wearing a mask, and this would keep me away for good.

      Let’s open the economy and then make it difficult for the economy to get out of first gear.

  17. Everyone died before contact tracers, now we can live forever. Isn’t a little sacrifice to your privacy worth it?

    1. This what blows my mind. Is this a hill you want to die on?

      1. You cannot die now. The government will not allow it.

        1. But if somehow you do, it is only because of C19.

  18. The idea of contact tracing is useful but as the article points out, it’s the fact that we have so little trust in government it makes the point moot.

    Have you seen how these assholes have behaved through the scamdemic? They did this with no real authority. Imagine if they had ONE thing on you.

    Low IQ Governors armed with information like this is a toxic mix. I’ve seen all I needed to see to know it’s a big no for me. If they’d force an app on my phone, I’d simply not use the phone of go low-tech.

    No amount of safety is worth becoming a slave to the state. And in case you haven’t noticed we’re almost there. If we were run by COMPETENT authoritarians we’d be in serious trouble in North America. This pandemic has depressed me greatly for a number of reasons including how many retards actually exist and how close to becoming a Venezuela we really are.

    Either this self-induced disaster that has exposed massive ‘hycuntcrisy’ and incompetence strengthens our resolve in committing to freedom or it sets a terrible precedence.

    Right now? It looks like the latter is prevailing.

    1. Serious question.
      How are you going to know if Apple of Google puts a tracing app on your phone with the next operating system update?

      1. I’ll give until Christmas. By then it’ll be a second wave and all hands on deck.

        1. GG, you just depressed me.

          1. Here are the most recent guidelines for opening New York:

            https://forward.ny.gov/metrics-guide-reopening-new-york?fbclid=IwAR03uoB–79lyQEgy4weuDGlSWfFInQoGP9G5pUr4DhcGNG9JZ-G1lvHvVM#business-precautions

            None of this shit can be measured reliably and seems basically impossible to achieve in any major city. Hence, lockdowns forever.

            I have no more illusions about this shit. New York State, and NYC in particular, will never reopen.

            1. Holy shit.

              Communism by other means.

              NY is done for real.

              Black market on the rise?

            2. If people start assassinating government officials and public health experts it might

              1. Nah. They’re too busy banging pots and pans and hollering from their balconies to celebrate the march of Cuomo’s Wermacht of the Essential.

      2. I don’t know. I’m sure smart people can tell me if that’s the case.

      3. may be time to turn off phones except when needed

  19. All of this is useless. Contact tracing works if you have a disease that is really deadly such that its spread can be controlled because people die before they can spread it very far. It also works if you have a small number of people infected such that you can track all of them or with STDs where you can’t get the disease passively. But with a disease that doesn’t generally kill people, is contagious, and is already widespread, it is useless.

    And then there is this.

    1) Only a small percentage of Americans, less than one percent in his study, maybe two or three percent nationwide, have had COVID-19. Herd immunity requires something like 70 percent or 80 percent to have antibodies. So the disease has a very long way to go before it has run its course. 2) There is no vaccine for COVID-19 on the horizon, and there may never be one. 3) The shutdowns that have paralyzed the developed world have, to some degree, slowed the spread of the disease, at tremendous cost.

    On the other hand, Dr. Bhattacharya has good news, too. The fatality rate from COVID-19 is low–worldwide, somewhere between 0.1 percent and 0.5 percent, probably closer to the low end of that range. The typical seasonal flu is said to have a fatality rate of around 0.1 percent. So COVID-19 is probably somewhat worse than the average flu virus.

    Further, another of Dr. Bhattacharya’s studies found that 70 percent of those who contract COVID-19 are asymptomatic. That is, they wouldn’t know they had had the virus if they weren’t tested. That percentage may be low. Studies of prisoners in several states have found that more than 90 percent of those who tested positive were asymptomatic. So the good news is, when you get COVID-19–and it is highly probable that you will get it, regardless of what governments do–it is unlikely to do you any harm, and you probably won’t know you had it.

    https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2020/05/a-scientific-explanation-of-why-shutdowns-are-useless.php

    The bottom line is that this virus is not going to be stopped only delayed. It is going to run its course throughout the world until 80% or more of the population has had it and the resulting immunity causes it to die out naturally. All we are accomplishing by destroying our economy and taking all of our civil rights and running around like morons in masks is delaying the inevitable. WE are accomplishing nothing with this. All of the fucking Karens and their fucking masks and their social distancing bullshit are wasting their own and everyone else’s time.

    1. SO MUCH FUCKEN THIS.

      I’ve been watching Dr. Battacharya since the beginning.

      We’re STUPIDLY delaying the inevitable. We’re shutting down summer and our lives in a scandalously unscientific manner.

      Until we fire compromised people like Fauci and Tam up here who are still peddling a faulty approach, we’ll be in trouble.

      There’s only one way out of this and that’s to go through the fury. Sweden was right all along.

      To think people who cower in their homes think they’re heroes like Ann Frank for not cutting their hair stuns me. It’s the very definition of superstition.

    2. It is going to run its course throughout the world until 80% or more of the population has had it and the resulting immunity causes it to die out naturally.

      With a high likelihood that it won’t die out naturally but once herd or stable immunity has been reached, it will simply displace and compete with the dozen or so other influenza viruses that take down 300,000-600,000 people worldwide every year.

      1. That is correct.

        But now government will simply treat every virus that results in any respiratory symptoms as a nail to be hammered with a lockdown. Coronaviruses already made up approximately 15% of infections resulting in symptoms commonly identified as the “common cold” and SARS-COV-2 is now going to be in that rotation.

        Basically, our government has convinced massive portions of the electorate that eliminating the common cold is a pre-condition to living a normal life.

        It’s really quite remarkable how, in a matter of a few months, a viral infection that most people would never even have noticed has been elevated to level of a modern day plague. The absurdity of the entire situation is mind numbing.

        1. +10 sads

    3. Contact tracing works if you have a disease that is really deadly such that its spread can be controlled because people die before they can spread it very far. It also works if you have a small number of people infected such that you can track all of them or with STDs where you can’t get the disease passively. But with a disease that doesn’t generally kill people, is contagious, and is already widespread, it is useless.

      These are excellent points and I would add in the asymptomatic factor and more legally taboo intractability as well. I can 100% hand the disease to or contract the disease all 3 of my kids who almost certainly wouldn’t know they had it and all 3 of whom legally cannot be traced by anyone but myself or my wife. They can 100% hand it to other kids in the neighborhood who won’t know they have it and are equally intractable.

      It’s the same straw buyer/gun show loophole/national gun registry bullshit, just with different lives being lost.

  20. This is all steeped in the mistaken assumption that we all won’t be infected with COVID-19 eventually.

    The legitimate goal of isolating ourselves (of our own free will or otherwise) was to limit the impact on ICUs and ventilator shortages by making it so we all weren’t infected at the same time.

    The assumption that any of us can avoid infection on a permanent basis is driving so many bad decisions right now. We need to disabuse people of this faulty assumption.

    I know it’s something people don’t want to believe. It’s like a sunk cost fallacy. The cat is out of the bag. We can’t unsee COVID-19. You will be infected.

    H1N1 from the “Spanish” Flu of 1918 is still with us. We had a major outbreak in 2009. They could have traced every person who’s been exposed to H1N1 from 1918 on, and a) they still wouldn’t have stopped the virus from spreading and b) almost all of us would be on the list.

    This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be doing anything to treat the virus or that people with high mortality rates shouldn’t willingly isolate themselves. It means that if you support doing these things, like tracing all of our interactions, because you think that if we find all the infected people, that will make the virus go away, you’re horribly mistaken.

    If you need to make an assumption about this, assume you will be infected by COVID-19 eventually, and then make policy–just like it’s probably best to assume that you’ve been infected with some form of the H1N1 virus from the 1918 pandemic.

    1. This is all steeped in the mistaken assumption that we all won’t be infected with COVID-19 eventually.

      Exactly that. Once it got loose in China, it was game over. The entire world was going to get it. We might as well speed that process up rather than lock ourselves in our homes delaying the inevitable.

      1. This ^.

        Some of us should lock ourselves in while we wait for the fire to sweep past us, but we should be encouraging that fire to sweep faster, not slower.

      2. “Exactly that. Once it got loose in China, it was game over. ”

        Except that they were able to limit the spread in places like Germany, Taiwan and South Korea.

        These are places where the virus truly did get detected quickly and traced and isolated.

        1. Are Germany, Taiwan, and South Korea free of COVID-19?

          SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says it has no immediate plans to revive strict social distancing rules despite a spike in coronavirus cases linked to nightclubs in Seoul.

          “Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told reporters Wednesday the government needs more time to analyze details of recent outbreaks before determining whether to maintain relaxed social distancing guidelines.

          South Korea has eased up on much of its strict social distancing rules last week before it has about roughly 30 new cases each day in the past several days. On Wednesday, South Korea recorded 26 new cases, 20 of them associated with clubs in Seoul’s Itaewon entertainment district.

          Health officials say in principle they would maintain relaxed social distancing rules if the country’s daily jump is below 50 and the number of untraceable cases account for less than 5% of all confirmed cases.

          —-Associated Press, May 13, 2020

          https://apnews.com/8d57b246c31ad395d4964d2cb36f296f

          Looks to me like they’re learning to live with it–despite there being both traceable and untraceable cases.

          1. This.

            Even in the countries where they cracked down immediately, the virus was not eliminated and, for lack of a better term, they stopped trying to contain it. At the end of the day, none of these lockdowns can last forever and, even if they could, they would only result in kicking the can down the road.

          2. They are using contact tracing to drive the number of infected lower. It is a fact that they have nowhere near the rate of infection that the rest of the world has.

            If you are saying that they are still going to reach 80% infected, that can’t be right. At their current rate of like 50 a day, it would take 50 years.

            1. “They are using contact tracing to drive the number of infected lower. It is a fact that they have nowhere near the rate of infection that the rest of the world has.”

              Even IF IF IF it is a fact that they have a lower rate of infection than the rest of the world, that does not mean that they have driven the ultimate number of infected lower.

              Do you not understand the difference between the rate of infection and the ultimate absolute number of infected people?

              It may well be that the same number of people are infected regardless of the rate at which they were infected. A train gets wrecked either way–regardless of whether the wreck happens in slow motion.

              To the extent that social distancing (willing or otherwise) has made it so that people aren’t dying for lack of ventilators and ICU beds, it has been successful.

              If you’re claiming that social distancing will keep more people from ever becoming infected, you still need to justify that claim. Otherwise, that’s a bait and switch.

    2. H1N1 from the “Spanish” Flu of 1918 is still with us.

      It’s with us, but not still with us. It hasn’t been around as such all that time.

      Influenza has been around all that time. H1 and N1 have been around, each in combination with various other hemagluttinin and neuraminidase alleles, recombining as the dice are shaken, looking for a host population that hasn’t seen the corresponding antigenic look. Periodically H1N1 comes up and finds that situation again.

      in other words, the H1 and N1 proteins are carried on genetically in their separate ways.

      1. “In 2009, a new strain H1N1 swine flu spread fast around the world among humans, and the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled it a pandemic. However, the 2009 H1N1 virus was not zoonotic swine flu because it was not transferred from pigs to humans. Instead, it spread through airborne droplets from human to human, and potentially, through human contact with inanimate objects contaminated with the virus and transferred to the eyes or nose. This virus caused similar symptoms to those seen in swine, possibly due to reassortment of the viral RNA structure, which allowed human-to-human transfer.”

        —-NIH

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513241/

        Regardless of the origin of the pandemic in 2009, the fact is that H1N1 has infected and reinfected us since 1918.

        When COVID-19 becomes like H1N1, that should be considered a success, and yet radical contact tracing for people with H1N1 would not be a cost effective means to achieve anything non-academic.

        Why should radical contact tracing be pursued now? Are you planning to refuse to let people shop, open their businesses, or go to work unless they get an okay from the government? For those who think COVID-19 is a good reason to refuse to let people go to work unless they’ve been tested and cleared, would you have suggested the same thing for H1N1? How is COVID-19 different?

        Is there anything we can hope to accomplish with radical contact tracing in regards to COVID-19 that would make the end result of COVID-19 different from the end result of H1N1–because of the contact tracing?

        1. Why should radical contact tracing be pursued now? Are you planning to refuse to let people shop, open their businesses, or go to work unless they get an okay from the government? For those who think COVID-19 is a good reason to refuse to let people go to work unless they’ve been tested and cleared, would you have suggested the same thing for H1N1? How is COVID-19 different?

          HIV has a very well-defined and easily traceable pattern of infection and spread. It should be no problem to prevent people likely to have HIV from participating in those narrow few broadly social activities that could spread the disease like donating blood.

          Per above, it should be no problem to trace everyone who has HIV anonymously.

          1. In California, anyway, I think this really is a culture war issue. I’m convinced that plenty of politicians and voters in California support the lockdowns specifically because populists elsewhere in the country are protesting against them. If the issue were framed in terms of one of their favored classes, I think it’s safe to assume they would be on the other side of the argument.

  21. Why are widespread RNA testing and contact tracing even being discussed at this stage? That would’ve made sense months ago when cases were few, but now the virus is so widespread it’s a joke.

    1. True. But now the scope for authority is much broader. Why trace a few hundred people when you can trace a few hundred thousand?

    2. Just so you’re aware, the hyperlinks to the videos on your homepage redirect to some malware-installing website. You might want to take care of that.

      1. Looks like a moderator did take care of that, and relocated your comment so it looks like it’s in response to mine, which doesn’t have hyperlinks to videos. My handle (by the way, I’m the same poster as Robert and Bob Goodman — but definitely not Michael Hihn) does link to my site, which I sure hope nobody’s spoofed.

        1. Wait a minute! Did you go deeper and click on the links to my firework videos? Creeper was hosting those for me at 250free.com some years ago. I thought the links were broken but not redirected. Thanks for pointing that out if that’s the case. Gotta inactivate them. They’re on YouTube now anyway.

    3. Because the ‘discussion’ of tracing has nothing to do with the virus, and everything to do with fascism.

      1. No, it has to do with idiocy, ignorance, and posturing.

        If tracing on that widespread a basis were truly implemented, the exponential growth of contacts would quickly lead to over 99% of the population as being “traced”. And when everybody’s special, no-one will be.

        1. Feature, not bug.

  22. My smartphone is about four years old now, and the battery is all but shot. I have to keep it plugged in just to use it. I was always an early adopter, but the older I get, the more sick I get of living in a society in which everyone’s face is incessantly buried in a screen. It’s turned me into something of a technorebel. I’ve been saying for a while now that my next phone is going to be a flip phone. If contact-tracing apps develop any sort of traction, it will make my decision easy. “Sorry, officer, left my phone at home. I’m absentminded like that.” It’s not like I have any friends anyway.

    1. Precisely what I said I’d do.

      Of course then comes Digital ID pimped by that son of a bitch Gates and micro-chipping.

      In a just world where poetic justice is dolled out, Gates and his ilk die by their own schemes. Like in the comic books.

    2. My next phone may be a flip phone with a removable battery since turning them off only turns them down and not off.

      1. Judging from the power consumption on my 4 year old flip phone, I have a feeling that “off” is pretty much just keep-alive and holding data, not broadcasting GPS. Power off lasts 6 months, power on is a shy week before the damned thing starts beeping that it’s hungry. I guess it could be collecting GPS data, but I don’t know what good that would do.

        Besides, the last one somehow feel out of the car (where it lives) and got run over in drive, or something.

        1. Phones do not broadcast GPS. Also, GPS does not track phones, cars, or anything else.

          GPS satellites broadcast timing signals that are used by GPS *RECEIVERS* to work out the receiver’s range relative to each of 4 or more GPS satellites. Basically, if you know where the satellites are, and you know how far you are from each satellite, you can mathematically determine where those lines cross and that is your position.

          The satellites broadcast their signals all the time, they do not communicate specifically with any particular device. Like OTA TV or radio, there’s nothing for your TV or radio to transmit back to the TV or radio company.

          GPS satellites are not “tracking” anything either. A GPS receiver may log its GPS-derived location and use the cellular network or other radio signals to phone home to corporate HQ, but that’s a completely separate deal than GPS.

  23. We’re in a great situation w.r.t. this virus. It has little to no effect on those who aren’t old or sick. And that’s the unattenuated strain! We already have one of the best vaccines that could possibly be produced: natural infection. We should be spreading it thru the population ASAP to minimize the time the risk groups need to isolate themselves. Trying instead to slow it down is a fool’s errand. We had the chance to isolate it early, missed or botched it, now forget about that.

  24. To state the obvious; we are not flattening the curve, we are just pushing it to the right on the graph of time.

    1. Which will make the final death toll worse, because we won’t be as prepared for the second wave as we would be if people were out getting exposed now, when their immune systems are stronger in the summer.

      1. And obviously we don’t want a second wave overlapping with flu season.

        So even if you think people are going to get sick when we let them outside, there will never be a better time for it to happen than right now.

  25. Robert Levin, the director of Ventura County Public Health, went one better than Inslee. He had to apologize after a contact tracing program announcement during which, as he put it, “I gave people the impression that if you were isolated, you would be taken out of your home”

    Impression hell thats what he said no mistakes about it, he said it and ment it the fucking commie

    contact tracing is for ebola we don’t need it for anything else

  26. But, oh boy, does it lend itself to abuse.

    It sure does! Can you imagine the stories that are going to come out of the Infowars and gun nut alliance? Phew… the combined forces of the Team Vaxxer and Gun Nut are going to cause a hurricane of smug which will eventually lead to a smug supercell that will clean Texas and Oklahoma right off the map.

    1. There all just paranoid losers.

      It shouldn’t be long now before their pseudo scientific BS kills them off anyway, and society can be left to those of us that know how to cooperate and do as we’re instructed.

      1. //[S]ociety can be left to those of us that know how to cooperate and do as we’re instructed//

        So is “society” what we’re calling gulags these days?

  27. Yeah, contact tracing is effective — when you have a few dozen cases and you need to stop a deadly disease early on. It’s way too late now, with millions exposed already, and not justifiable for a disease that 99.5 percent of people survive.

    1. You were doing great until you got to the stats. Even here in the US, it’s running about 5% mortality, unless you buy into the the thought that there are 10x as many cases as being reported (which might be true, but hard data say otherwise).

  28. So, NY will let the people go back to work as long as they pay for a new army of government employees indefinitely.

    Couldn’t happen to a better group of people.

    1. Hi Brian,

      I know how sensitive you are to discrimination against Asians so I thought I’d ask you about this video

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3FYuUBZI2rc

      Question: Is Dear Leader here more of of a racist prick or a whiny bitch? I can see arguments on both sides. Can you explain your answer? Thanks you lovable SJW

      1. I believe the consensus amongst all good-thinking people is that Trump is a racist for saying those things.

        Now, extend that kind of thinking beyond Trump, go find a mirror, remember what you said, and realize that you agree that you are a racist, racist.

      2. You’re a misinformed totalitarian ignoramus who gets your lunch handed to you on a regular basis. Like all degenerate left-wing socialist, you don’t know how to reflect because you have no shame or principles. It can’t be stated enough. You’re a broken person.

      3. Question: Are you more of a fucking lefty ignoramus or just a miserable excuse for a human being?

  29. This article and the comments are an illustration of why our country is getting hit so hard. There is a vocal and ignorant minority of the country that resists everything that would help. They don’t want to social distance, they don’t want to wear masks, they don’t want mass testing, and they don’t want contact tracing. My guess is that they will object to the vaccine also. Apparently 2,000-3,000 people dying from this every day is not enough to convince them this is serious. Many other countries are well on their way to beating this, and we are not even close. Why? Because of them.

    1. Fuck off.

      And die, preferably.

    2. And you are an illustration of how pathetic lefty scumbags can be.
      Make your family proud and the world a better place: Fuck off and die.

  30. “Why, yes, contract tracer. I have been meeting people. First, I volunteered for Joe Biden’s campaign. I met all of the volunteers, shook hands, some of us even made out. Then I served a “I love you!” breakfast at the police department, buffet style. We only had a limited number of plates, though, so we had to reuse them. Then I did my usual “fuck around the world!” tour with the teacher’s union. Those gals really know how to give. Next,….”

    1. This sounds like a lot of jealousy on your part, Brian. Didn’t you buy your bride from Thailand or something?

  31. For many years, there has been this standard advice for consumer security: if someone calls you on the phone and asks for personal information, you hang up.

    So, good luck with this.

  32. Any evidence that many countries are “well on their way to beating this”? Without a vaccine?

  33. no. gracias.

  34. “”Some people are a little suspicious. Some people hang up after I ask for their date of birth and address,” Jana De Brauwere, a San Francisco contact tracer, told MIT Technology Review. “I understand that, the mistrust of the government, having grown up under communism.”

    So she’s a native San Franciscan?

    1. It’s stunning to watch us devolve into a police tyranny for Covid. Is she saying this with a straight face?

      The Chinese won. Literally.

    2. Reminds me of a local town planning leader who quit in disgust when meetings started being held behind closed doors. Her final public words on the matter were: “This was why I left Hungary” (during the 1960’s).

      Find someone who has lived under one of the wonderful beneficent systems and ask them what they think. It doesn’t have to by Ayn Rand; any run of the mill East German or Czechoslovakian will likely do.

      This BS will not end well.

      1. Admiral Josh Painter: This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it. [The Hunt for Red October]

  35. One of the foreseen consequences of a tracer program is for some people the thought of being interrogated about your whereabouts could lead to sick people not willing to get tested.

    1. Of course, this will be an ‘unintended consequence’, right?
      /annon

    2. One unforeseen consequences is people asking to many questions never being seen again. Tracers may want to watch their 12

  36. “I do not recall”

    If it’s good enough for every lying politician, it ought to be good enough for the public at large as well.

    1. The irony is Hillary fans as tracers will be offended by your comment.

  37. Government, boldly going forward with a plan that only made sense months ago, before it was confirmed that this was far more widespread than we thought.

    Wonder what those guys will be done once the covid thing is done?

  38. Tracing where people have been and who they’ve met can be effective for battling disease. But, oh boy, does it lend itself to abuse.

    I’ve heard this before as a frequent and long-held concern about armies in those used-to-be-rare occasions called war. Expressed by people who we supposedly respect since we stick them on a pedestal as ‘founders’. What happens when the legitimate war ends and the army keeps on keeping on. Used to be we had a solution for that. A militia that would be trained. When and only when an emergency occurred they’d have to first convince themselves it was an emergency otherwise they wouldn’t show up. And they would limit themselves to that initial mission. And the cost would be lower precisely because they buy in to the nature of the problem and to its short-termness. And they would quickly want to demobilize when victory can be declared. All of which hugely limits the potential harm of standing mercenary volunteers.

    Course we don’t do militia or reserve anymore. And we are far too stupid now to even see how it could possibly apply to stuff like disease, natural disasters, etc. So hey – let’s just spend a few trillion dollars hiring people whose main goal is a permanent job – so that we can fret about what those permanent folks can impose after this problem is over.

    1. “And we are far too stupid now…”

      Speak for yourself, you cowardly piece of lefty shit.
      Stuff your PANIC!! flag up your ass, stick first and sit on it.

      1. howz about you READ the rest of his piece rather than go off on the bait on his hook…

        He is right….we USED to have a system that was cheap, local, self-regulating, effective, AND protected the rights of those involved.
        Now we just rob the general public at gunpoint, use the take to hire a bunch of unaccountable incompetent riffraff, and let THEM decide what needs to happen, rights to be put into the bowl, the hopper chain pulled, and the lot of it all be flushed down the four inch vertical black pipe.

        1. “He is right….we USED to have a system that was cheap, local, self-regulating, effective, AND protected the rights of those involved.
          Now we just rob the general public at gunpoint, use the take to hire a bunch of unaccountable incompetent riffraff, and let THEM decide what needs to happen, rights to be put into the bowl, the hopper chain pulled, and the lot of it all be flushed down the four inch vertical black pipe.”

          What a steaming pile of shit.
          Howz about you WRITE something intelligible?

  39. They’re more like rights and privacy violators. Big Brother needs to kick rocks, before he’s pelted with them.

  40. So, how does everyone like the martial law brought on by the fake coronavirus “pandemic”?

    More and more people are waking up to the fact that the coronavirus “pandemic” is a fraud — an invisible, all-purpose enemy to which the government can attribute any dangers it wants to frighten and control us.

    The international corporate elite that runs things behind the scenes has taken an illness no more dangerous than the common flu (and probably far less so) and turned it into an excuse for an enormous expansion of government power and an enormous redistribution of resources — literally, trillions of dollars — from the citizens to the corporate elite.

    We have been lied to every step of the way. News reports of overworked doctors, overflowing morgues, crowded hospitals, crowded ICUs, mass graves, racing ambulances full of COVID-19 patients, and refrigerated trucks full of bodies are contradicted by numerous videos of empty hospitals, empty waiting rooms, empty “testing centers”, and parked ambulances in the alleged “epicenters” of the pandemic.

    Even in New York City at the height of the alleged pandemic, undercover reporters released videos showing New York City ERs virtually empty. No lines, nothing. Just recently, Project Veritas showed undercover video of a staged “testing center” in Michigan with hospital employees playing the patients.

    There was never any legitimacy to any of it. The masks, the “social distancing”, the “social bubbles”, the “self-isolation”, the “self-quarantining”, the “contact tracing”, the shutdowns, the lockdowns, the push for vaccination, the push for testing, the bans on assemblies and large groups — none of that is to keep us safe, but all of it is to condition us to accept mandatory vaccination, more government control, more arbitrary regimentation, and more handouts to the corporate elite.

    The coronavirus charade is no different from previous virus panics — SARS, MERS, Swine Flu, Zika — only now the people at the top think we are divided enough, stupid enough, and weak enough to submit to a massive acceleration of the ongoing transfer of power and wealth from us to them.

    Too many of us still believe — despite overwhelming historical and contemporary evidence to the contrary — that the government and the corporate media do not lie, especially about the big things. In reality, the government and the corporate media lie about everything — especially about the big things.

    The breakthrough will come when the majority of us realize that the starting point for knowing the truth is to believe the opposite of what the government and the corporate media tell us.

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