Gov. DeSantis says contact tracing has been ‘terribly ineffective’ in Florida

Health officials say contact tracing can be most effective tool to stopping spread of COVID-19

For months, Florida’s top health officials have been working to control the spread of COVID-19 through vaccine expansion, social distancing and reminding everyone to wear masks.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said despite efforts by health officials, contact tracing is not working.

“I think we have to admit that contact tracing has just not worked,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis said the method of controlling COVID-19 by identifying the origin of infection, mapping it and asking people to quarantine has been unsuccessful.

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“I think unfortunately it’s not something that has been terribly effective in Florida or throughout the country,” he said.

In August 2020, News 6 reported on two contact tracing companies the state hired, which cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, in hopes of controlling the pandemic.

Professor Ali Mokdad with the University of Washington disagreed with the governor’s remarks.

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“I don’t know who is advising the governor, but that is against everything we do in epidemiology and against everything CDC is recommending,” Mokdad said.

The former CDC epidemiologist and chief strategy officer of Health Metrics Sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation argued that contract tracing not only provides vital information for health leaders, but it helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s highly effective if it is done right, so when you go and trace people and find out where they got the infection it will help you as a governor to plan what to shut down or what to keep open,” Mokdad said.

DeSantis claims his opinion is shared among public health officials.

“I will say this, and I think people that were advocating contact tracing have acknowledged, there is not a place you can say it’s really bent the epidemic curve downward,” DeSantis said.

Mokdad said it is the most important factor in stopping the spread and said it was effective in Seattle.

“You know the source, who the people came in contact with so why, where, what and when. This is very important for us in epidemiology to control a pandemic,” Mokdad said.