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.
Have there been any outbreaks among daycares?
Answer: I haven’t seen any. There’s a way to track outbreaks on the Virginia Department of Health website. I haven’t seen any in daycares. Contact tracing is a way to prevent outbreaks by catching it early and making sure others aren’t exposed.
What about the first Kawasaki infection of a child?
This had recently been announced in Virginia. They are being treated and taken care of. We’ve learned in the last few weeks that children who are asymptomatic can have a post-virus syndrome that could potentially be worse than the virus itself.
What is your opinion on sending kids back to daycare?
Answer: I think it’s okay to send your kids back to daycare. Call your daycare and find out what their policies and procedures are. Daycares are doing a good job of minimizing risk, and this risk may even be less than going to the store.
What about differences in public vs. private schools?
I’ll talk about this in two ways: individual schools will have to decide how they go back to school, it won’t be decided by the Department of Education. There will likely be recommendations from the Department of Education and the government, and schools will have to decide how they will follow that. I think we’re going to get a spectrum of recommendations.
Another factor to determine is how public and private schools have responded to online learning since school buildings have been closed. In most cases, private schools are doing an extraordinary job because they’re on a single IT platform. This is what I’ve been trying to do with my virtual education legislation. With one platform, everything can interact from that space. K-12 public education in Virginia simply doesn’t have that. I’ve heard from my patients whose children are in private schools are handling the transition, but those in public schools are having a harder time. Public school teachers are working hard to get the kids the education they need, it’s just more difficult because they don’t have the resources they need.
Question 5: What about sports being allowed to practice and play? Is this addressed in one of the phases?
I do think kids need to get out and play, and I do support that. I’ve seen guidelines for kids playing organized sports, but I’ll find out more about that.