Survey shows majority of U.S. adults would not participate in contact tracing to monitor COVID-19

UNITED STATES — On Tuesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced state health officials will soon begin contact tracing to monitor the spread of the coronavirus.

As more businesses slowly reopen, more people are beginning to leave their homes. Both Georgia and Florida state leaders have discussed contact tracing as a method to track where COVID-19 is continuing to spread in the community.

“Mapping out where a disease starts, the outbreak, or where a person has been infected; and once you locate where they are, then you can look at people who have come in contact with them,” Dr. Chris Baynard said.

Baynard is an associate professor of geography and geographic information systems at the University of North Florida. He studies location analytics: how location matters, what is located where and what are the relations between places and people. He said contact tracing could be an effective way to detect corovnavirus hot spots.

“Having a method in place that supposedly is in the background and not identifying you specifically but is a method that can alert others if an infected person or you’re the infected person has come in contact with others,” Baynard explained.

Apple and Google announced a partnership to try to develop technology that would use a cell phone’s Bluetooth technology to track its location. If a person using the app is near a coronavirus case, the app would make an alert.

Action News Jax created a survey asking adults if they would let the CDC, tech companies or the government track their phones. Some said they would participate with the CDC or tech companies, but a majority said they would not.

Baynard said privacy will always be an issue as technology develops. However, most apps already track your location.

“We’re trying to combat a pandemic,” Baynard said. “It’s not about gathering information on your lifestyle choices or buying preferences. This is about reducing human deaths.”