There will be a televised service at the war memorial to commemorate Memorial Day, and we’ll include a link on the website.
I’ve been looking into contact tracing, and I’d like to take the time to go over it. Contact tracing is not new, it’s been done for a long time. With appropriate protection and privacy, it’s done by healthcare professionals, and it will be used for COVID. The federal government encourages its use. An outbreak can be prevented if the number of people who are exposed to someone who is positive is very small, and that is very important for COVID, because you could be infected but be asymptomatic. The Virginia Department of Health has to do this on a much larger scale now to handle COVID. I think we need to understand exactly what they’re doing, and make sure that privacy criteria is being maintained.
The Virginia Department of Health is looking to hire 1,300 people, mostly nurses. When a positive case is reported, and hospitals and labs are required to report those tests, then the contact tracer from the health department would have a conversation with that person to determine if they had been in large groups, if they had been around other people, and to determine the window in which they were infected. That person will then notify those people who were around the infected person. The initiative will be to get the person to self-quarantine, to get treatment if needed. The contact tracer never actually shares who the infected person is. There are many checks and balances in place, and this is a good way to prevent outbreaks and to protect the population in general.
There are two apps potentially of concern to handle contact tracing. One app seems okay to me, a triage app. This is an app to review the symptoms of COVID to help determine if an individual has those symptoms, and what to do if someone does have symptoms. It will also allow individuals to contact the health department if they need assistance. This app seems to be an information based app to help people stay informed.
The second app has not been developed yet, and the details have not been shared yet. This app is to alert people if they’ve potentially been exposed. This app seems to be a little creepy to me; it allows individuals to opt in or opt out, and you can be tracked through the app. I think we need to watch this very closely. I’ve reached out to the Department of Health because we’re going to want to have more information on this. I will try and get an official statement to see what this is.
In Virginia, the police cannot track your cell phone without a warrant. There is a pretty high threshold to obtain that warrant for a criminal because we want to protect privacy. I carried legislation this year to make sure that our consumer privacy is protected. I am concerned about how much our privacy is being invaded. This app is definitely outside my comfort zone.
I think this is another reason we need a special session convened. There needs to be an intense review and conversation about some of the decisions being made. We need to learn the aspects of a decision being made.
There’s been a lot of concern over the executive order regarding phase 1, and the fact that personal care and grooming businesses are required to keep a log of everyone that comes in because of contact tracing. I don’t think this is unreasonable. I don’t think the state should have access to this information, but in these times of trying to find a way to get back to work while staying safe, I think it’s okay for the Health Department to have this information.