Ingraham: Michael Bloomberg will handle tracing, the army of tracers in New York, we learned today from [New York Gov. Andrew] Cuomo.
Giuliani: This is totally ridiculous.
Ingraham: the army of tracers.
Giuliani: Then we should search everyone for cancer.
Ingraham: Yes, army of tracers.
Giuliani: We should be tracking everyone for cancer and heart disease. And obesity. I mean, a lot of things kill you more than Covid-19. So we should be traced for all of these things. I mean that life carries a certain degree of risk.
Ah ha ha ha ha … wait, what ????
Here’s the problem, Mayor: These diseases are not the same at all. Cancer, obesity and heart disease are not contagious. The coronavirus is. This is why contact tracing is a strategy to fight coronavirus and not, say, obesity.
According to current research on the virus, each person with coronavirus infects an average of two other people. So if one person infects two, these two infects four then these four infects eight then these eight infects 16 – well, you get the idea: the number of people infected starts to get very large very quickly. This is why the vast majority of the country has spent the past five weeks staying at home and maintaining social distance. Because staying away from each other is the best – and, really, the only – way we currently have to fight the virus.
And the infectiousness of the coronavirus is also the reason why contact tracing – which is essentially capable of understanding in a very short time all the contacts that an infected person has had in order to limit the spread of the infection – is important . So that we have not returned to this same situation in a month or six months. As the CDC says about contact tracing: “Immediate action is needed. Communities need to step up and train large contact tracing personnel and work collaboratively between public and private agencies to stop the transmission of Covid-19.”
Giuliani – and Ingraham – seem not to understand this notion. Instead, they saw the news that former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was lead Empire State contact tracing efforts as an opportunity to mock the idea of an “army of tracers”.
I guess Giuliani and Ingraham wanted to make fun of a nanny state – that people would be responsible for monitoring everyone to make sure the virus didn’t spread. Which is not at all how contact tracking works. But whatever.
Here’s the problem with stuff like that: it’s not just a harmless exchange. Many, many people watch the Ingraham show; in the first quarter of 2020, it was the fourth highest rated show on cable TV. They trust Ingraham. They trust Giuliani. And so when a man once called “mayor of America” says something so categorically untrue – and, frankly, ignorant – it will deflect some observers against the idea of contact tracing.
Which is, again, according to doctors and infectious disease experts, exactly what we need to step up to deal with a second possible outbreak.