Multiple States across the country are reportedly walking back promises to use contact tracing systems developed by Silicon Valley tech firms such as Google and Apple.
NBC News reports that this week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy outlined his plans to trace the spread of the coronavirus by hiring 1,600 contact tracers to call people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Murphy did not plan to use any form of smartphone app to help with contact tracing, stating when asked: “The state of New Jersey is neither pursuing nor promoting exposure notification or digital alerting technology, at least at this time.”
Multiple states that had committed to using contract tracing apps or expressed interest in them are now rolling back their statements. California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) initially vocally supported the use of contact tracing apps, stating that he wanted to “build that capacity and partnership” with Apple and Google after they announced their contact tracing system. Two months later, no contact tracing apps or cellphone tracking technology are being used in California according to a spokesperson for California’s Public Health Department.
The spokesperson told NBC News: “Most of the contact tracing work (notifying people who have been in close contact with an infected person to prevent the disease from spreading to others) can be done by phone, text, email and chat.”
A recent survey by Business Insider this week should that only three states, Alabaman, North Dakota, and South Carolina, are going to use Apple and Google’s tracing system. So far, none have launched an app with the Google and Apple system. Andy Slavitt, an Obama administration health care official who is chair of the nonprofit United States of Care, commented: “The factual analytical assessment is it’s not a high upside. The bulk of the investment you need to make is in manpower.”
Read more about the lack of interest in contact tracing apps at NBC News here.