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El Paso County commissioners respond to House resolution raising concerns

Posted at 1:35 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 21:29:07-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — El Paso County Board of County Commissioners addressed citizen concerns Tuesday regarding a house resolution introduced to Congress at the beginning of the month.

Commissioner Mark Waller said he, and other commissioners, have been receiving emails from residents worried about H.R. 6666. The resolution is dubbed as the TRACE Act: COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, and Contacting Everyone Act.

It was first introduced in the House of Representatives on May 1. Reps. Diana DeGette and Joe Neguse, D-Colorado, are cosponsors on this House resolution.

“We’re seeing email traffic that say the county commission is advocating for, voting for, pushing some sort of mandatory testing for COVID in people’s homes. I can tell you that’s ridiculous, absolutely beyond the scope of anything that this board has the authority to do, has the desire to do, or thinks is appropriate,” Waller said.

According to Congress' website, the resolution would "authorize the Secretary of Health and Human services to award grants to eligible entities to conduct diagnostic testing for COVID-19, and related activities such as contact tracing, through mobile health units and, as necessary, at individuals' residences, and for other purposes."

A few News5 viewers reached out concerning the language of the resolution and what contact tracing allows. The El Paso County Department of Public Health and Environment has been conducting contact tracing in the county since the start of the pandemic. Contact tracing is when health officials "trace" the steps of a positive COVID-19 case to see who has been in contact with the person and where they might have been.

"Each time we are getting a report of a case, we are contacting that person to find out where they have been in the past two weeks before the illness," said El Paso County Public Health Epidemiologist Kimberly Pattison. “To identify where they might have been infected, but also see where they might have been while they were infected. The path and patterns of someone who is infected helps identify many other people as possible at risk of getting the virus."

Residents raised concern over testing in people's homes, believing this would allow health officials to test anyone in their homes. Commissioners said they would not support door-to-door testing in regards to the portion of the resolution residents have been bringing to their attention.

"If it's taking away any privacy rights, I'm against it," Commissioner Stan Vanderwerf said in response to an email he received asking why he would support it

Further detail of the resolution states this would allow "testing individuals and providing individuals with services related to testing and quarantine at their residences."


Tracing the path of COVID-19 in El Paso County