Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dedman College Research Faculty News History

Contact tracing can stop COVID-19 — only if Americans allow government access to personal data


Originally Posted: August 26, 2020

BY: Jo Guldi and Macabe Keiher

Jo Guldi is an associate professor of history at Southern Methodist University. She teaches courses on data, text mining, and the history of capitalism. She is author of “Roads to Power: Britain Invents the Infrastructure State” and co-author, with David Armitage, of “The History Manifesto (2014)”.

Macabe Keliher is an assistant professor of Chinese history at Southern Methodist University. He is the author of “The Board of Rites and the Making of Qing China.”

Most Americans await a vaccine to end the pandemic and get us back to work. But the drama about vaccines and masks has obscured a practical answer to ending the pandemic that has already worked in other parts of the world, and which could end the pandemic across the U.S. in only a month, at minimal cost: contact tracing. Contact tracing means entrusting government representatives or corporationswith intimate data about individuals’ locations and creating a potentially sensitive repository of information about citizens. That data can save lives– but it will only come into being if Americans trust the system for managing that data. READ MORE