Contact Tracers Struggle to Get People to Answer Phones and Questions



Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Shooting in Seattle's CHOP area … Chicago police records won’t be destroyed … Columbus ditches Columbus statue.

Across the country, some agencies setting up contact tracing programs to track the coronavirus are reporting struggles getting people to answer calls or provide detailed information about their contacts. In the first two weeks, 35% of the roughly 5,000 people who tested positive in New York CIty provided information about the people they had been in contact with. In the third week, the city had more success, with 42% offering that data. In Louisiana, the state health agency reported that more than half of people who tested positive that contact tracers were trying to reach on the phone weren’t picking up. “It’s worth doing even if it’s, at this point, not as effective as we’d like it to be,” said Dr. Susan Hassig, associate professor of epidemiology at Tulane University. People not answering their phones (perhaps apprehensive about spam callers) has become a common problem as states ramp up their programs, although Massachusetts officials in early May said 60% of people they reached were picking up. [New York Times; The Advocate]

SEATTLE SHOOTING | A fatal shooting in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest area (formerly known as CHAZ) in Seattle raised questions about the ability of police to respond to violent crime in the six-block area without police presence that has been devoted to protest in recent days. Officials said detectives were not able to get to the scene after the shooting, which killed one teenager and critically injured another person. The Seattle Police Department said investigators are “conducting a thorough investigation, despite the challenges presented by the circumstances.” [Seattle Times]

SAVED POLICE RECORDS | The Illinois Supreme Court rejected a request from the Chicago police union to destroy thousands of police complaint records that are more than five years old. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the court made the right decision. “For way too long, we have not been as transparent as we need to be in this city. We have to have accountability and legitimacy. And that can't come if we hide from the public documents that underscore what has happened with disciplinary investigations and records in our city,” Lightfoot said. [WBEZ]

COLUMBUS STATUE IN COLUMBUS | The mayor of Columbus, Ohio announced that the statue of Christopher Columbus outside of city hall will be removed. “For many people in our community, the statue represents patriarchy, oppression and divisiveness. That does not represent our great city, and we will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past,” said Mayor Andrew Ginther. [WBNS]

HUMAN RESOURCES | San Francisco Mayor London Breed directed the city's Department of Human Resources to audit law enforcement hiring and promotion practices to identify potential biases. "We want our law enforcement officers to reflect the best of our city and our values. While most do, we can improve how we are identifying the qualities that we want as well as those we know we don't," Breed said. [SF Gate]

Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.

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