The type of contact tracing the federal government is using to help curb the spread of the coronavirus will not impinge on people's privacy, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Newsmax TV.
During an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV's Emerald Robinson that aired on Thursday's "American Agenda," Azar said the federal government is not using any IT-enabled approaches to help conduct contact tracing.
Contact tracing involves a person who is infected with the coronavirus working with a contact tracer to identify anyone with whom they have been in contact since before the onset of their symptoms.
Azar said the goal of contact tracing is to alert anyone a sick person has been within 6 feet of for more than 15 minutes. Ideally, he said the sick person can trace their steps back 48 hours before they began to experience symptoms. Those possibly exposed to the virus can then be monitored and tested, if deemed necessary.
He said the method being used is a "very standard public health" approach.
"We have done this for over 100 years of the basics of public health, nothing new, nothing novel," he said.
He said the U.S. is not taking IT-enabled approaches that some foreign countries are engaging in.
"That would run up against some very core American values of independence and privacy," he said.
In some cities, governors have made technology-based contact tracing tools available. He said deploying voluntary tools is acceptable.
"Enabling voluntary tools for people to use – that's perfectly appropriate to do as long as everything is always voluntary," he said.
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