Covid-19 Law and Ethics Tuesday Roundup – July 7, 2020

Is Contact Tracing Working?

Contact tracing is a race. But few U.S. states say how fast they’re running.

Excellent Washington Post report on the lack of publicly-available data on state and local contact tracing efforts. Contact tracing is a central part of the Test-Trace-Quarantine/Isolation approach to slowing and stopping infectious disease outbreaks, and states have well-established legal authority to undertake such efforts against COVID-19. The ease and speed of the virus spread means outreach to new cases and those with whom they’ve had close contact must begin almost immediately, and that the scale of the job is tremendous. That said: the better a community does with testing-tracing-isolation, the less they need to rely upon blunt responses like stay-at-home orders. 

Only a handful of major jurisdictions have contact tracing public data dashboards – see NYC, Oregon, and the graphic below from Washington DC as exceptions. 

Washington DC Covid-19 Contact Tracing Dashboard

In April the CDC published metrics of interest, which include:

  • Proportion of new cases arising among quarantined contacts (the higher this %, the more the virus is successfully being contained in the area)
  • Ability to contact trace new cases (with contact occurring ideally in less than 24 hours)
  • Ability to contact trace close contacts 
  • % of “unlinked” cases – new diagnoses that cannot be traced back to a prior close contact (ideally, this should be below 30%)

Mask Mandates in More States

What states require face masks in public? Now at least 20 states, as Kansas & Texas joined the list last week. And yesterday, in a bit of “Covid-19 Political Theater,” West Virginia’s governor announced a mask mandate for indoor public spaces (but also said it wouldn’t be enforced).

Patient & Public Involvement in Covid-19 Policy Making

Public voices have been absent in the early stages of the pandemic. They must now move center stage

Treating Covid-19-Related Guilt, Shame, and Moral Injury

A report in the journal Psychological Trauma discussing trauma-informed guilt reduction therapy  for those who have survived or lost loved ones to Covid-19, as well as for those who have cared for us and made countless excruciating decisions throughout the crisis.


|2020-07-07T15:56:25-04:00July 7th, 2020|COVID-19 Literature|Comments Off on Covid-19 Law and Ethics Tuesday Roundup – July 7, 2020

About the Author: Ross Silverman

Ross Silverman
Ross D. Silverman, JD, MPH, is Professor of Health Policy and Management at Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health and Professor of Public Health and Law at Indiana University McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. He is a member of the IU Centers on Health Policy and Bioethics. His research focuses on public health and medical law, policy, and ethics, and law's impact on health outcomes and vulnerable populations. He also serves as Associate Editor on Legal Epidemiology for Public Health Reports, the official journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service. His most recent Covid-19 publications include: "Ensuring Uptake of Vaccines Against SARS-CoV-2" in the New England Journal of Medicine (with MM Mello & SB Omer), and "Covid-19: control measures must be equitable and inclusive" in BMJ (with ZD Berger, NG Evans & AL Phelan)

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