Dear Friends and Media:

Item 11.5 on today’s City Council Agenda reads as follows:

“Discussion and action to direct the City Manager to research and allocate eligible CARES Act COVID-19 funding, and any other funding that is available for contact tracing, hiring of contract tracing personnel,  and other measures conducted to address the spread of COVID-19 in El Paso.”

The item is promoted by Rep. Peter Svarzbein of District 1, which means that it should be thoroughly scrutinized. 

The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution (1791) begins as follows:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

CRITICAL QUESTIONS:1. Does “contact tracing” mean submitting data on the locations and movements of El Pasoans to the government?

2. Will “contact tracing” be voluntary or compulsory?

3. Will the task of establishing “contact tracing” be outsourced to a private corporation?

4. What guarantees will our City and/or County provide that “contact tracing” will not violate our 4th Amendment rights?

5. What evidence is there that “contact tracing” is effective?

6. More generally, what are reasonable limits on government power during a pandemic of this magnitude?

Regardless of where one stands on this issue, it is good to ask a lot of questions.