Why doesn’t Florida use contact tracing apps to help combat coronavirus?

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As COVID-19 cases surge across the country, states are looking for ways to slow the spread of the virus.

There’s a tool health experts say could help, but has yet to really take off: Contact tracing apps. States that have rolled out apps are seeing low enrollment numbers as residents are hesitant to sign up over privacy concerns.

“People are very reluctant to share any information right now,” Dr. Jay Wolfson, the senior associate dean at Morsani College of Medicine.

Unlike states like New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Nevada, Florida does not have an official contact tracing app.

“The state’s resources are limited and the state is putting all the resources and the data management into vaccination preparation and [traditional] contact tracing. We are one of four states participating in a pilot study to figure out how to logistically distribute the stuff once it gets here. Once the vaccine gets here, it is a huge endeavor,” Wolfson explained. “We don’t really have a health department that is that well-staffed. For the last 20 years or so, the legislature underfunded – in some cases defunded – our state health department.”

Wolfson believes contact tracing apps could help but they are not being marketed enough by states and people are reluctant to sign up.

“Even 10-15% [people signing up] makes a difference. I mean you may not find everybody but anything you can do to push that curve down, to early identify people who have been exposed or potentially exposed, that can make a tremendous difference,” said Wolfson.

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