Contact tracing stopped at the country club gates

Neo Classical Country Club Estate - $8,300,000 | Entrance gates ...

From downtown New Orleans to the tony suburbs of New York, post-graduation parties and summer gatherings drawing dozens of teens have become loci of COVID infections around the country.

Taking a look inside one prep-school-party COVID cluster, an article in the New Yorker recounts the reverberations from graduation parties turned superspreader events at an exclusive Atlanta private school.

Spurred by a false sense of security (“We don’t live in New York,” one dad said) and Georgia’s early reopening orders, several families at the Lovett School held graduation parties, some with as many as 50 attendees.

The school received its first report of a student testing positive four days after attending the graduation festivities. A growing cluster of infections became evident as more cases came to light, including among students who posted TikTok videos to announce their positive test results. Lovett’s school nurse began ad-hoc contact tracing, finding 23 positive cases on her first day of searching.

But Fulton County contact tracers were met with fierce resistance from parents, with the vast majority of those contacted declining to talk. The school provided students’ contact information, but said it couldn’t cooperate with tracers further due to privacy regulations.

There are many reasons that individuals might be reticent to participate in contact tracing, such as fear of losing a job, or worries about immigration status. But the resistance of wealthy, highly educated “prep school parents” to contact tracing is shocking. Public health efforts will continue to be stymied as long as the instinct to protect individual and school reputations from the perceived stigma of infection outweighs the greater good—the health of the community.





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