The Problem With Government “Contact Tracing”

The Problem With Government "Contact Tracing"

Tyler Durden

Tue, 06/30/2020 – 19:25

Authored by James Ketler via The Mises Institute,

As states move through phases of reopening, “contact tracing” has remained a topic of national interest. For months now, talking heads in the government and media have hailed the strategy as the country’s saving grace. One NBC headline read, "Coronavirus contact tracing could stop COVID-19 and reopen America,” and a CNN article declared, “the US — or really any country — can’t safely reopen without significant amounts of contact tracing and testing”.

With this starry-eyed perception, dozens of states have rushed to train and hire tens of thousands of contact tracers – what former CDC director Tom Frieden gleefully described as an “army” of tracers. 

It’s true that contact tracing has been an indispensable asset many times in the past – helping to snuff out viruses by diligently tracking their spread. So it’s no mystery why some health experts are flocking to it in the current crisis. 

In short, this is how it works: contact tracers conduct short, over-the-phone interviews of newly-diagnosed patients about who they have recently been in close, physical contact with. The fear is that these recent contacts could have contracted the virus from the patient before he was diagnosed. These contacts are then phoned by tracers, informing them of this risk and encouraging them to seek testing and self-quarantine immediately. Tracers continue this process on down the line, with the aim of reducing the instances where the virus is transmitted

A few states have also begun developing smartphone apps to conduct a digital form of contact tracing. Phones running the app exchange unique, encrypted numbers via Bluetooth, which are then stored on their devices. If an app user is diagnosed with COVID, he’s supposed to notify the app, which then publishes the log of numbers his phone received in the last fourteen days. If one of these numbers matches one stored on the device of another user, the app will send that user an alert that he’d been in recent contact with a newly-diagnosed COVID patient. 

So far, the adoption of these apps has been left completely voluntary in the US, unlike other countries like China and South Korea. Overall, though, most of the states have yet to show much excitement towards digital tracing. The main focus remains on building an “army” to track the virus’ spread, no matter what it might cost the country.

Financial Costs

Contact tracing job positions are temporary—lasting for months or up to a year, with annual salaries ranging from $40,000 to $70,000. Those numbers are about on-par with the entry-level salaries of registered nurses, for a job that anyone completing a free, six-hour course can be hired for. Few, however, have questioned whether such pay is excessive or this use of taxpayer money prudent. It’s all been blindly okayed under the hallowed pretense of “public health”.

With experts recommending that the country hire a total of 150,000 contact tracers, these programs may end up costing the states somewhere between $1 billion and $10.5 billion altogether. On top of that sum lie whatever additional costs the handful of states developing digital tracing apps incur. Worse, bills currently floating around the House and Senate would, if made law, establish a federally-led contact tracing program with a price tag as high as $100 billion. To government budget-breakers, that may just look like zeros and decimal places, but there’s a serious economic toll to be reckoned with. 

Increased government spending is often accompanied by a rise in taxes, and almost always by an expansion of the money supply. In either case, people’s wealth is subsequently decreased. Individuals and their families must, accordingly, cut back on the amount of money they save, which in turn decreases the stock of loanable funds from the level that would have otherwise been available. As a result, the amount of investment in the economy falls, dulling the momentum of economic growth. That could severely dampen the economy’s post-recession recovery. 

In our present crisis—unlike any before—many businesses were shut down for months not by economic circumstance, but by state decree. That contributed to the sharpest ever employment crisis in the US, with more than 20 million workers being cut from payrolls in April alone. Some of these cuts were temporary furloughs, but a part of that number reflects permanent job loss—either from companies being forced to slash operating costs or going bankrupt outright.

Some of the proponents of the state’s contact tracing programs see themselves as killing two birds with one stone—helping to eliminate COVID, while also putting people back to work. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) made this clear when stumping for the federal contact tracing bill she co-sponsored: “Our policies must meet the needs of the current moment, and that means getting creative about how we get people back to work”. 

But government jobs programs don’t actually create employment in any way besides superficially. The reality is that they siphon labor away from potentially productive ventures at wages propped up at artificially high rates. This too will defer the economy’s recovery and must—for the good of private enterprise—be halted immediately. But by the looks of it, the program will continue forward uninterrupted, as it plays perfectly into the narrative that the state can solve all of society’s ills—no matter what the economics and epidemiology really say about it.

Public Health Doublethink

Much of how the public should respond to the virus hinges on the question of how common asymptomatic transmission of it is. Unfortunately, the research available on this is limited and contradictory, allowing cunning politicians to play both sides of the fence in order to get their way.

Some early findings suggest that the virus undergoes considerable shedding in patients not showing symptoms, meaning that asymptomatic transmission is indeed common. Viewed through this narrow lens, it would seem that there’s cause to worry. However, the data suggesting the prevalence of asymptomatic transmission is ultimately rather paltry, and there’s evidence pointing to the contrary.

WHO spokeswoman Maria van Kerkhove recently claimed that based on “a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing,” asymptomatic transmission is “very rare”—directly contradicting what public health officials had long assumed about the virus. If the risk of contagion remains low until after symptoms appear, patients are far less likely to spread the virus to others. This notion too, though, is based on data that is, as of yet, incomplete, leaving the question of asymptomatic transmission unsolved and open to further inquiry. But whatever the underlying reality is, a significant problem must inevitably emerge for defenders of the government’s pandemic response efforts. 

At the outset, governors imposed the lockdowns for fear that asymptomatic carriers were spreading the virus. Since anybody could unknowingly be infected and contagious, lockdowns were put in place as a proactive quarantine on the entire population. But according to Dr. Don Printz, a former research leader at the CDC, if there’s “shedding 2-5 days before any signs or symptoms, I would think [contact tracing] would be almost impossible”. Indeed, with an incubation period lasting between two and fourteen days, many patients would remain contagious for a long time without ever showing symptoms. New chains of transmission would easily emerge, generating exponential growth in the number of new cases. By the time contact tracers tried to map the probable path of transmission, the virus would have already spread to a number of other people—and on and on after that. 

On the flip-side, if asymptomatic transmission is “very rare,” as van Kerkhove asserted, contact tracing may be a successful strategy. If only symptomatic patients are spreading the virus, though, the whole rationale for the lockdowns is then completely destroyed. For all the economic, political, social, and psychological damage the lockdowns caused, they would have yielded absolutely no public health benefit. It boils down to this: it’s either (1) that the lockdowns were effective or (2) that the contact tracing is effective, but politicians can’t have it both ways. 

Still, the government’s big-spenders have pushed forward without delay. In fact, they’ve doubled down on their self-contradictions. The CDC, for instance, declared that “asymptomatic transmission enhances the need to scale up the capacity for … thorough contact tracing”. That is, of course, a repetition of the perennial call for more funding—oh, how our problems would disappear if only we spent more. Funneling more money towards programs that are inherently faulty won’t lead to better or more effective results, but to programs just as faulty, only with larger personnels.

Trying to Trace COVID Probably Won’t Work Anyway

Even casting aside politicians’ obvious public health duplicity, their contact tracing plans don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. Whatever the case with asymptomatic transmission may be, COVID’s characteristics pose contact tracers unique and probably insurmountable challenges, leaving the US’ tracing “army” already besieged.

The first problem is that catching COVID is not activity-specific, unlike other viruses like, say, HIV. Anyone in close proximity to a contagious COVID patient is at-risk for inhaling virus-ridden droplets that had been coughed, sneezed, or breathed out—it doesn’t matter where people are or what they’re doing. That suggests that the virus may often be transmitted between complete strangers, in which case contact tracing is rendered impossible, as tracing relies upon patients recalling their recent contacts. 

This has only been exacerbated over the past month with the Black Lives Matter riots springing up across the country—a perfect storm for the virus’ spread. Research has shown activities like yelling, singing, and chanting to extend the distance that infectious droplets are spewed into the air. Not only does this lead to more new cases, but it also makes it much more difficult—even impossible—for tracers to figure out who passed the virus to whom.

The second problem arises once symptoms begin to show. The way COVID manifests itself is multifarious, with some patients only exhibiting irregular symptoms not usually associated with the virus, like loss of smell, rash, and delirium. Many of its key symptoms—including dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath—are found in a variety of other illnesses, further muddying the waters. That leaves gaping holes in the health record and may lead to new, hard-to-trace outbreaks.

Though meant to increase efficiency and efficacy, digital tracing apps are also riddled with significant problems. If the apps aren’t downloaded by enough residents, many may easily fall through the cracks and infect others. The apps only confer public health boons if they’re in common and widespread use. But today, nearly 20% of Americans still don’t own smartphones and a recent poll indicated that only half of those who do would consider downloading a tracing app. And that’s not even to mention the fact that people don’t always have their phones on their person, meaning that many interactions could take place untraced and under the radar.

In focusing entirely on proximity, digital tracing continues to get it wrong. Indoor air flow poses a risk of spreading infectious droplets across rooms and throughout entire buildings—far beyond the six-foot proximity the apps look for. This summer, that risk may be augmented by AC ventilation. Then there’s also the risk of touching infected surfaces, which may harbor traces of the virus for hours or up to a few days. The apps simply can’t account for this sort of spread, chipping further away at their overall effectiveness.

Moreover, there are some instances where people who are physically close together are extraordinarily unlikely to become infected, like in a supermarket checkout line, separated from the clerk by a plexiglass shield. Nonetheless, this would trigger an alert to be sent to people’s phones, warning them of possible COVID exposure with no further explanation—triggering a false alarm and probably a lot of worry and confusion. Divorcing the human factor from the process takes an undeniable toll on its reliability, when it was never that reliable in the first place.

Why should anyone still have faith in the government when it’s made fatal stumbles at every step of the pandemic? Public health officials were unable to stop the first instances of community spread of COVID in late January and even remained in denial that the virus was spreading uncontrollably until the end of February. The notion that contact tracing is right now serving as a useful strategy in the US—with active cases hovering around 1 million—is preposterous.

Officials may feign confidence in the decisions they make, but that’s fueled by pure optics, not science. Across all fifty states, these programs are on track to reroute billions of dollars and more than one hundred thousand workers away from otherwise valuable uses. And for what? All to spin our wheels and sink into a false sense of hope and security.

via ZeroHedge News

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Black Lives Matter Protester Trying to Block Car Carrying Iowa Governor “Shocked” When Hit as Car Driven Right Through Him

A Black Lives Matter protester who tried to block a vehicle carrying Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) by standing in front of it Tuesday said he was was shocked when Reynolds’ driver hit the gas instead of the brake and drove right through him. The protester, Jaylen Cavil, said he was “physically okay” after failing to block the governor.

Jaylen Cavil protesting Gov. Reynolds, screen image.

The Des Moines Register reported on the incident (excerpt):

…A group of about two dozen Des Moines Black Lives Matter activists showed up to Reynolds’ public events in Steamboat Rock and Ackley, each about 90 miles from Des Moines, on Tuesday to urge her to immediately sign an executive order restoring voting rights to people with felony convictions who have completed their sentences. Reynolds has said she will sign the order but not immediately.

The activists were not allowed into Reynolds’ events, which were held on private property, so a group of them stood in the driveway of Family Traditions Meat in Ackley to block Reynolds from driving away.

Jaylen Cavil, an organizer with Des Moines Black Lives Matter, said he was standing in the driveway hoping that Reynolds would roll down the window of the vehicle and speak to them.

“The SUV that Gov. Reynolds was driving in drove right up to me. I was standing right in front of the car and I just stood there. I was like, ‘I’m going to stand here. Surely the driver of the governor is not going to hit me with her car. This is the governor, my governor, who’s supposed to be representing me. I’m sure that her car is not going to intentionally hit me.’ I was wrong,” he said.

Cavil said he was not injured, but it was shocking when the vehicle hit him. He said the impact spun him around and lifted him slightly onto the hood of the vehicle….

End excerpt. Please read the complete Des Moines Register article at this link.

An Iowa Antifa activist was not happy with the governor not letting herself be held captive by the mob.

Jaylen Cavil was senior deputy political director for the campaign of Eddie Mauro who lost the June 2 Iowa Democrat primary to take on incumbent U.S. Sen. Joni Ersnt (R).

Cavil tweeted about blocking and being hit by the governor’s car:

“Kim Reynolds driver hit me with her car, lmao…I’m physically okay. Just still shocked & trying to process the fact that the governor’s car intentionally hit me today.”

Cavil’s group Des Moines Black Lives Matter posted photos and videos of their protest.

Gov. Reynolds was at the White House last week.

The post Black Lives Matter Protester Trying to Block Car Carrying Iowa Governor “Shocked” When Hit as Car Driven Right Through Him appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.

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DHS Deploys Special Federal Unit To Protect Monuments Over July 4 Weekend Amid Vandalism Fears

Via Fox News:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is deploying a special federal unit across the country for the July 4 weekend in order to protect federal monuments and statues from a possible fresh wave of vandalism.

“The upcoming July 4th holiday weekend has the potential for increased disruptive activity at specific locations across the country that could threaten our personnel and the Federal facilities and property they protect,” a soon-to-be-released memo penned by acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, and obtained by Fox News, says. “DHS will be forward leaning in preparing to protect federal facilities and property.”

Rapid Deployment Teams (RDTs) from the Protecting American Communities Task Force (PACT), and consisting of law enforcement officers specially trained in areas such as crowd control and riot control, will be dispatched to Portland, Seattle and Washington D.C.

Additional RDTs will be dispatched regionally so that they can be flown into any other area within a few hours should unrest spark up in other cities across the U.S.

Keep reading…

via Weasel Zippers

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COVID-19 Exposes The Real Cost Of Fake News 

COVID-19 Exposes The Real Cost Of Fake NewsWe’ve been forced to pay drastic economic and social costs to battle the existential threat COVID-19 is perceived to be. It has cost the world trillions of dollars and the loss of myriad civil liberties, so it makes sense for societies to ensure the price paid was worth it and if not, to demand extreme accountability in return.

Fact is, COVID-19 was destined to be Fake News from the start, the question was how  large a fake would it prove to be? Given the coronaviruses’ “novel” designation, early COVID-19 models must have been heavy on assumptions and light on factual data. They could only spit out wild guesses and, as it turns out, they guessed poorly. Regardless, the guesses proved more than good enough for government work. 

via Canada Free Press

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President Trump Stands Up For Religious Liberty

President Trump Stands Up For Religious LibertyPresident Trump addressed a United Nations Event on Religious Freedom. In his speech he boldly spoke up for religious freedom and against religious persecution saying, “The United States is founded on the principle that our rights do not come from government; they come from God.  This immortal truth is proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.  Our Founders understood that no right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions. 

via Canada Free Press

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HUGE: Per His Lawyer — General Flynn Was Targeted Because “He Knew About the Billions Brennan and Company Were Running Off the Books”

General Michael Flynn had to be removed.  He knew too much.  He had to be shut down and silenced.  He was the primary Deep State target.

Sidney Powell was on the Vicki McKenna radio show and she dropped another bomb.  Per a report from Lifezette, General Michael Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell shared the following:

“He was going to audit the intel agencies because he knew about the billions Brennan and company were running off the books,” Powell said, referring to former CIA Director John Brennan.

Powell began her interview noting at the 1:00 mark that when she took over the Flynn case three things were very, very troubling and egregious:

One – he was not properly informed of what the government had even disclosed to his defense lawyers prior to the plea.

Secondly, the government didn’t disclose a fraction of what it should have disclosed (i.e. the whole case was made up).

And three, he was prosecuted and threatened with the prosecution of his son.  That’s how they coerced the guilty plea.  It was just unconscionable conduct to threaten to indict him and his son the very next day and give them the Manafort treatment if he didn’t enter his plea right then, and I’m convinced it’s because they knew right then the press was going to explode with the Strzok-Page text messages and everything.

Then Powell drops the bomb at the 5:50 mark where she discloses that Flynn was going to audit the Intel agencies because he knew about the billions former CIA Director John Brennan was running off the books.

Listen to “Sidney Powell Interview 3-31-2020” on Spreaker.

It was all about money and power.  It always is with the Democrats!

The post HUGE: Per His Lawyer — General Flynn Was Targeted Because “He Knew About the Billions Brennan and Company Were Running Off the Books” appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.

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Mississippi Gov. Defends Armed Couple: ‘Totally Within Their Rights’

Missouri Governor Tate Reeves (R) spoke up for the armed couple who stood outside their home to keep protesters away by saying they were “totally within their rights.”

Reeves used a Facebook post to say:

The media is swarming to attack a couple in Missouri for brandishing firearms while telling protestors to leave their property. It’s become a huge national story. Maybe this group had peaceful intent, but the country has seen a ton of violence. The group entered their gate and marched up to their front door. I think these homeowners were totally within their rights (although they might want to work on trigger discipline).

Reeves added, “Private property still exists in this country and the 2nd Amendment is not for hunting—it’s for self defense.”

Breitbart News reported that Mark McCloskey and his wife grabbed guns and stood in front of their home as hundreds of protesters moved through their neighborhood.

The New York Post reported McCloskey and his wife are now under investigation.

St. Louis Prosecutor Kimberly Gardner said, “I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protestors were met by guns.”

Garner added, “We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated.”

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him at You can sign up to get Down Range at

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BLM Activists Are Funneling Donations Back to Their Own Companies, Documents Show

The left-wing activist and former Bernie Sanders surrogate Shaun King is among the most visible faces of the Black Lives Matter movement. The former Daily Kos blogger is also one of its prominent fundraisers: In 2017, King founded a political action committee—the Real Justice PAC—with an eye toward driving criminal-justice reform across the country using the same mass mobilization techniques employed by the Sanders campaign.

But over the past 15 months, the Real Justice PAC, staffed by a number of left-wing activists, has funneled a quarter of the money it has brought in back to companies linked to PAC leaders.

Since January of 2019, the PAC has cut dozens of checks totaling more than $460,000 to three political consultancy firms linked to PAC employees. The PAC’s data strategist, Jin Ding, and its treasurer, Becky Bond, manage two of them: Social Practice LLC and Bernal Alto LLC. The third—Middle Seat Consulting—was cofounded by one of the PAC’s original leaders, Hector Sigala.

"There are legal and ethical ways to have people in leadership positions at an organization also serve as vendors to the same organization," Scott Walter, president of the Capital Research Center, a money-in-politics watchdog, told the Washington Free Beacon. "But these relationships properly raise questions, especially for a group whose leaders include someone like Shaun King, who has repeatedly been accused of enriching himself improperly."

"For 501(c)(3) charities, the IRS actually prohibits what’s called ‘private inurement’ or excessive benefit to an individual from the organization’s coffers," Walter said. "Real Justice PAC isn’t a nonprofit overseen by the IRS but a PAC overseen by the Federal Election Commission, which so far as I know doesn’t have such a strict regulation. Still, groups like Real Justice that routinely criticize their opponents for things like ‘dark money’ influence—should be prepared to defend practices that let leaders write checks to their own for-profit consultancies."

Ding, the PAC’s technology strategist, is registered as the manager for the California-based Social Practice LLC and Bernal Alto LLC in the firms’ state filings. Social Practice received nearly $250,000 from Real Justice PAC this cycle for campaign consulting and digital services. Bernal Alto, which dissolved earlier this year, was paid $20,000 for consulting and organizing services. Bond, a cofounder of the PAC and former senior adviser to Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, is also listed as a manager for both companies. Progressive digital firm Middle Seat Consulting, which was cofounded by Sigala, received $193,000 from the PAC for advertising services.

While it does not appear that King is personally profiting from Real Justice PAC’s payments, the activist has faced accusations of pocketing money he fundraised for Haitian orphans and the families of black individuals killed by police. "Some of that money went to survivors or victims’ families, but much of the largess either went into failed projects, King’s own pockets, or is unaccounted for," the Daily Beast reported in 2019. King called the accusations "bulls—t" and said that "people need to understand that failure is not fraud." King promised to release records of where he spent fundraised money in March of last year, but never did.

Real Justice PAC’s profile has grown amid widespread protests against racism and police violence. The group claimed it has seen an influx of new donations—though it did not specify the amount—and is featured on donation-guide lists for Black Lives Matter supporters.

The financial arrangement is in keeping with the PAC’s previous practices. During the 2018 election cycle, the PAC sent more than half a million dollars to Bernal Alto and Middle Seat, according to the Daily Callerand the continued payments could raise questions about how the PAC will use its windfall of new donations.

In previous cycles Real Justice PAC has been pivotal in helping elect far-left district attorneys. In 2017 it provided outside fundraising services for far-left Philadelphia DA candidate Larry Krasner, who went on to win. The group backed a slew of other left-wing candidates including San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin and state’s attorney for Cook County, Ill., Kim Foxx.

King, Bond, and several others formed Real Justice PAC in 2017 with the goal of "fighting structural racism." It has since worked alongside George Soros’s criminal justice PAC on DA contests across the country. Those efforts have given many far-left candidates major money advantages in their races. Real Justice has pulled in nearly $2 million so far this cycle. Much of that sum came from Cari Tuna, the wife of Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz. Tuna was also the PAC’s first donor.

Tuna’s foundation, the Open Philanthropy Action Fund, made a $750,000 contribution to the PAC in October. Tuna has directly donated another $50,000. The PAC has also received $100,000 this cycle from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a dark money group that falls under the umbrella of Arabella Advisors, a massive D.C.-based network wealthy Democratic donors use to conceal the sources of hundreds of millions donated to liberal groups and initiatives every year.

The Real Justice PAC did not respond to a request for comment on the payments.

The post BLM Activists Are Funneling Donations Back to Their Own Companies, Documents Show appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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