Tracking devices used to enforce quarantines

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Tracking Devices Used to Enforce Quarantines –  But Unnecessarily; There’s a Less Expensive Way to Begin Enforcing Coronavirus Quarantines

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 3, 2020) – Louisville has ordered several COVID-19 patients and a family member to wear tracking devices to enforce a quarantine, and, in another similar situation, posted armed deputies outside a quarantined man’s house.

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Authorities Should Enforce Quarantines

It's high time authorities began to enforce quarantines to prevent even more unnecessary deaths, but there is an easier and much less expensive way to insure compliance, suggests public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who researched a similar issue regarding tracking of illegal immigrants.

Banzhaf says the following shocking situations show why better methods to enforce quarantines is required

  • Although an entire family was asked by health officials to quarantine after the mother reported coronavirus symptoms, the father took his daughter to a crowded school gala only two days later and, as a result, two schools were forced to close.
  • A medical center employee who was told to voluntarily quarantine instead decided to go to a crowded student mixer, and now a close contact has contracted the coronavirus.
  • Another man subject to home quarantine was ordered to return to work where he is likely to infect others.
  • The rabbi of Young Israel of New Rochelle, the synagogue at the center of the New York coronavirus outbreak, reported that "I have heard alarming reports that some of our members who should remain in quarantine have repeatedly violated it."
  • A young man who has tested positive for coronavirus ignored health advice to self-isolate and instead went back to work at a major hotel.
  • And who can forget that CNN's-then chief medical reporter, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, deliberately violated a voluntary quarantine imposed on her to protect the public from Ebola, which was believed then to be even more dangerous than COVID- 19.

Using Simple Means For Monitoring Compliance

Thus, what is urgently needed, says Banzhaf, are for governmental bodies to begin using simple and inexpensive means for monitoring compliance with voluntary quarantines since, when both lives and liberty are so clearly at stake, the public should not be required to trust the word of potential carriers of this deadly virus when they claim that they haven't left their homes for 14 days.

Posting guards, or having health workers or police knock on hundreds of doors several times a day to insure compliance with a quarantine simply is not feasible, he argues.

GPS monitoring ankle bracelets are already in wide and successful use to keep tabs on illegal immigrants, but the supply is limited, and there is some expense involved.

Even better to enforce quarantines, suggests Banzhaf, is inexpensive and readily available software which can determine with considerable accuracy the identity of a person from the sound of his voice on a telephone, or at least detect if the new voice matches a sample he previously recorded.

So, to help insure compliance with a voluntary quarantine order in any dwelling with a home telephone, a computer could easily be programmed to call the person quarantined, at random times several times each day at his home telephone number, and ask him to repeat a sequence of random words (to insure that the voice it hears is not prerecorded) to be sure that he is remaining in his home.

A very similar verification process could be used by having the person voluntarily quarantined called from time to time on his cell phone, since a GPS-equipped cell phone can be located with great precision with simple monitoring/tracking programs.

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About the Author

JOHN F. BANZHAF
John F. Banzhaf is an American public interest lawyer, legal activist and law professor at George Washington University Law School. He is the founder of an antismoking advocacy group, Action on Smoking and Health.

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