“After a woman in Rockland County, N.Y., admitted to throwing her daughter a party while showing coronavirus symptoms, contact tracers sprung into action.
They phoned dozens of guests, hoping to get the partygoers tested and isolated and stop an emerging virus cluster in its tracks. But many of the attendees hung up, handed the calls to their parents or flat-out lied, saying they never made it to the event on June 17. Others never picked up at all.
So this week, county health officials tried a much more drastic approach. They issued subpoenas to eight of the partygoers, ordering them to speak up to the disease detectives or face a fine of up to $2,000 a day — and it worked.
‘It’s amazing how smart some people got,’ Ed Day, the county executive, told CNN on Thursday. ‘Everybody is complying and helping us, which is all that we’re trying to have happen. … We’re not looking to be punitive here.’
After some people across the country rose up against lockdown measures, ignored social distancing requirements and declared war on face masks, Rockland County’s unapologetic legal strategy shows just how difficult it may be to get Americans to comply with yet another government effort to fight the pandemic that has surged in recent weeks…
State and local governments have to hire and train tens of thousands of tracers, act fast to keep up with the highly contagious virus, overcome government mistrust and privacy concerns and find money in their already cash-strapped budgets to fund it all…
Only a handful of residents remain hospitalized as of Thursday, and the number of new infections reported each day have dropped to the single digits, the data shows. But as that figure started to increase this week, worried authorities offered a stern warning.
‘If you get in the way of a health department investigation, we will take every step necessary to ensure we respond appropriately,’ Day said, ‘and we’re talking a serious response.'”