“Officials in New York’s Rockland County recently got aggressive about contact tracing, issuing subpoenas to eight party-goers who refused to cooperate with tracking efforts. If the eight had failed to comply, they would have been subject to fines of $2,000 per day; however, within 24 hours, all eight acquiesced, signaling that the threat of a monetary fine may be an effective health policy tool to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
As reported by The New York Times NYT +1.8%, a party in Rockland County, NY in mid-June attracted a crowd of 100 people, in violation of a state ordinance that capped gathers at 10 people. After the party’s host and eight guests tested positive, Rockland officials launched a vigorous contact tracing effort to identify others who may have been exposed. They quickly hit a road-bump as several of the party-goers obstructed the efforts.
‘My staff has been told that a person does not wish to, or have to, speak to my disease investigators,’ Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, the county’s health commissioner, was quoted in the Times. Of the individuals her team tried to contact, Dr. Schnabel said, ‘they hang up. They deny being at the party even though we have their names from another party attendee.’
Instead of tolerating the party-goers selfish refusal to cooperate, Rockland County upped the ante, issuing subpoenas. ‘Those who did not comply and share what they knew by [the following day] would face fines of $2,000 a day,’ according to Rockland officials.
The subpoena and financial warning worked as all eight individuals who had received a subpoena started cooperating with the county Health Department.”