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Trump's Contact Tracing Failure

The people at Trump's rallies are suicide bombers. How many will they infect and kill? Because of Trump's contact tracing failure we may never know.

Chris Hayes was pissed last week. He raged at the Trump administration’s many failures. People have made tremendous sacrifices for months and his government still doesn’t have the testing and contact tracing capacity we need.

His guest, former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, spoke about the disaster in Florida and brought up just how bad our contact tracing is.

9,000 new cases in one day. 29,000 in the last seven days. It’s a disaster. It’s a catastrophic failure of leadership. Of our Governor, of our President. The mayors are scrambling to try to do the right thing.

We don’t have contact tracers as you pointed out. Listen. Rwanda, in Africa, has 12 million people. They have 60,000 contact tracers. We’re not even in the ball game.

I've been writing about contact tracing issues since the beginning of this pandemic. I wrote  "Let's Track The COVIDIOT Protesters" back in April.  By now I thought I'd be writing about privacy concerns in a national database.  But it hasn't been implemented because of another massive failure of Trump admin.

6,000 at Trump's Tulsa Rally, June 20

Image from: Mike Simons. Tulsa World

Dozens of Secret Service officers and agents told to self-quarantine after Trump’s Tulsa rally, June 24 (link)

The failure of Trump's Campaign to keep their own people infection free will lead to more infections and deaths, did the Campaign turn over their attendee data to Oklahoma State Department of Health immediately? Everyday they delay more can get infected.

  • How long is the incubation period for the disease?

    Two to 14 days, but typically five days.

  • When does someone become contagious?

    Two days before showing symptoms.

    From COVID-19 Contact Tracing course offered by Johns Hopkins University (link)

In the article you can already see how they are stalling and hiding. Typical Trump. Hide the numbers you don't like. A functioning CDC or state department of health could use the infection rate at rallies to prove the dangers of maskless indoor shout fests. But the Trump admin does NOT want to know the results of testing and tracing of people at the rallies.

Reporter at Trump’s Tulsa rally tests positive for COVID-19, June 26 (link)

3,000 at Trump's Phoenix Rally, June 23

Image from: Nick Oza/The Republic

In April I attended a conference (Flatten the Curve Summitt) that pointed out the need to ensure contact tracing was kept in the world of science and public health. It shouldn't be politicized.  I kept that in mind for future stories on enforcement of violations of people wearing masks. I also read more about contact tracers (What Do Contact Tracers Do? A Reporter Attends a Training Course to Find Out

May 26th following George Floyd's murder 100's and 1,000's of people gathered outside to march and protest. Most wore masks. .

Protest following killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, in Brookside neighborhood near 34th Street and Peoria Avenue, on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Image from: CORY YOUNG/for the Tulsa World

When the Trump administration saw those protests they used them as cover to start up their campaign rallies.

Image from: Nick Oza/The Republic

Trump held two rallies in Tucson and Phoenix where about 9,000 gathered indoors to cheer and chant. Most didn't wear masks.
Temperature tested before the rally. Masks REQUIRED during testing, then 95% of the people TOOK THEM OFF during the rally. This station COULD have been a COVID testing location, but Trump didn’t want it and OSDH didn’t provide it Image from: Dane HawkinsTV

I'm sure more than 9,000 people attended the George Floyd protests, but they were outside and most wore masks.

I was worried that people at the protests could get COVID-19, but the immediate concern was the police brutality. People lost their eyes from rubber bullets. When TV news covered the protests they showed the blood and beatings. It's what they do. I watched a LOT of coverage. They all expressed concern that COVID-19 could spread and kill protesters and their friends in the following weeks or months, but that wasn't the top TV headline.

When Trump announced the rallies the top issue was the possibility of people spreading COVID-19. It was the immediate concern. I'm sure that if non-mask wearing Trump supporters were teargassed and shot in the face with rubber bullets while peacefully standing in line outside the BOK Center that would be the top story.

Since that didn't happen we got the classic Whataboutism. "Where was your concern for COVID-19 when you were covering BLM protests!!!"

I've always been concerned. Was that maskless person on the left infected? If @HealthyOklahoma did contact tracing they could tell the people there to be tested and isolate.

If people were exposed to COVID-19 at a protest or a rally there should be contact tracing so that the people exposed can take steps to be tested and to self isolate. Normal people want to be alerted if they were exposed. Trump supporters don't want to know, because it would show they were stupid for going to the event and not wearing a mask.

Both groups should be traced. It’s not supposed to be political, it’s about public health.

In this video I combined an interview with the Director of Arizona’s Department of Health Services, Dr. Cara Christ, discussing contact tracing with video from the Phoenix rally. I then followed it with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey telling people to expect a call from public health.

The audio of those two talking about the importance of mask wearing and participating in contact tracing over footage of thousands of maskless students sitting shoulder to shoulder inside a church is pretty powerful.

I don't have a lot of hope that we'll see any good contact tracing following the two Trump rallies. I've been writing local TV and national news reporters suggesting they stay on top of Trump's failure in contact tracing. I expect eventually we will see stories and hear the excuses why contact tracing wasn't done.

UPDATE 6/29/20: Here's a tweet from Whitney Bryen @SoonerReporter who tested negative after covering the Tulsa rally and protests. (Link)

The ability exists to know exactly how many of Trump’s rally attendees were suicide bombers and how many were just bomb carriers. If there was enough testing and contact tracing capacity before these events lives could have been saved. But governors didn't want to get a nickname and a mean tweet from Trump, so they let the rallies happen. I hope the families of the deceased will remember come re-election time.

But the one good thing that has happened with all the attention on the maskless indoor shoutfests is that Mike Pence just canceled his rallies in Tucson and Florida!

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