Positive COVID-19 Cases in President Trump's Inner-Circle Raises Urgency of Contact Tracing

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On Monday, via Twitter, White House Press Secretary, Kayleigh Mcenany announced she tested positive for COVID-19. She's just the latest positive case in a list of high profile people connected to the President.

The White House says they are in full contact tracing mode to find out who else was exposed during the president's recent travels.

The uptick in positive cases in the president's inner-circle is raising the urgency of contact tracing.

Dr. Nahid Bhadelia from Boston University School of Medicine told NBC News, “Time is of the essence here. Because if you miss -- if you miss those contacts, you know, those contacts then become infections, which then lead to new chains in the transmission.”

But some are questioning how extensive that contract tracing effort actually is.

Ohio Republican Governor Mike Dewine publicly said he wasn't contacted following the debate in Cleveland.

Days after a Minnesota rally where there was no social distancing and few masks, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health told NBC News in a statement: "there has not yet been any contact with the White House or RNC at this time."

In California, by law, employers must provide written notifications in one business day to employees who have possibly been exposed to coronavirus. And some businesses are using technology to help them with the contact tracing process.

At a press conference on Monday, doctors from Walter Reed Medical Center and President Donald Trump’s physician announced that the president is doing well after being treated for the coronavirus and will return to the White House on Monday evening.

DPR, a construction company, is working on a jobsite in Kearny Mesa.  On the site, about 40 DPR employees wear a tracking card that is Bluetooth enabled and linked to a contact tracing platform.

It records when two or more people are close to each other for more than two minutes.

If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 the contacts tracked in close proximity of that worker are immediately notified to get tested and remain isolated until the results come in. 

None at the Kearny Mesa jobsite have yet tested positive for COVID-19.

Gary Scholten with DPR said, “Ultimately we want every single person to go home every single day healthy. Period.” He continued, “ When we issue badges and we tell them why they are getting a badge then they understand why we are trying to keep them safe.”

Critics question the accuracy of Bluetooth enabled contact tracing technology.

There are also privacy concerns and worries that such a system could produce many false positives.

Susana Franco, a spokesperson for Contact Harald says the data remains on the card for 20 days and isn't used unless there is a need to download it.  She said it doesn't use GPS and doesn't record an employee's location.

“You don’t need to worry about privacy issues cause no personal information is being stored on it.  If its registered correctly and everyone on the job site is using it, it’s very accurate.”

DPR started using the technology in August. A spokesperson from Contact Harald said they charge companies $30 per key card used by the employer.

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