RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — As intensive care unit beds continued to fill up with new coronavirus patients, fewer people were cooperating with Riverside County contact tracers.
The healthcare investigators place phone calls to those who have tested positive for the virus and ask where they have been recently and who else they had contact with in an effort to slow the spread of the illness and track potential outbreaks before they happen.
“I think it’s an invasion of privacy,” Chris Sinette, a Riverside resident, said.
Sinette said he wouldn’t be comfortable disclosing his whereabouts and felt like most others wouldn’t either.
‘The other thing is, you don’t necessarily known who’s on the other line,” he said.
But Riverside County spokesperson Brooke Frederico said that contact tracers adhere to strict confidentiality.
“We don’t identify an individual when we reach out to contacts,” she said. “Number two, we also do not share this information with any government agency or law enforcement group of any kind.”
She said the only purpose of contact tracing was to slow the spread of the virus, but more and more coronavirus patients were telling contact tracers that they couldn’t remember where they had been or refused to share that information.
But not all Riverside residents felt that way, knowing that sharing that information could save lives.
“People are dropping dead from it,” Leta Cohenour said. “It’s scary.”
And with more than 500 people currently hospitalized for coronavirus, seven out of 17 Riverside County hospitals have been forced to move into surge capacity for ICU beds.
Doctors said summer social gatherings were likely largely to blame, and additional closures could be re-implemented if another spike follows the Fourth of July.
“It is possible that more restrictions may come either from the local or the state level,” Frederico said.