Contact tracing near impossible during large protests

Contact tracing near impossible during large protests

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - As thousands of people protest the death of George Floyd throughout North Alabama, there is concern among health professionals about what those large gatherings could mean for the spread of COVID-19.

Doctor Karen Landers stressed she supports the public's right to push for change through peaceful gatherings, but she encourages those attending the rallies to wear personal protective gear, and socially distance as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus.

Doctor Landers said contact tracing could be more difficult if someone was potentially exposed during a protest. Contact tracers typically look at who patient's were in close contact with, or if they were within 6 feet of someone for more than 10 minutes.

If someone at a local protest tests positive for COVID-19, the Alabama Department of Public Health would release a notice to the community, asking those in attendance to contact the health department to evaluate their risk.

“As you saw early on in COVID-19 in different parts of the nation as well as Alabama persons who attended group gatherings - but again remember it is obviously the distance people are together and the time frame people are together that is really subject to the situation there as well as if people are wearing masks.”

Alabama is one of the only states that has teamed up with Google and Apple for a contact tracing app. The app is still in the development phase, but Doctor Landers said it could be useful in situations we are seeing across the nation.

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