HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Health Department disease surveillance branch is creating the program due to the prevalence of positive COVID-19 test results, according to the DOH bid request.
The $415,000 contract has been awarded to market researcher Omnitrak Group, which will be tasked with calling individuals who test positive for coronavirus.
Rep. Diamond Garcia, a House Committee on Health and Homelessness member, was not happy with the news.
According to a state-drafted caller script, workers will ask for the person’s resident status, race, gender, employment, medical history, vaccination status, exposure history and more.
Omnitrak will then provide weekly updates to the state with demographic and location summaries of where COVID is spreading.
“I don’t think the people of Hawaii should be surveilled. Their health is a private issue with themself, their doctor, their family,” said Garcia. “Government should stay out of their life, leave us alone.”
The chair of the House Committee on Health said the program will be paid for with CDC funds and added that surveilling how a disease spreads is part of public health.
“It’s only giving us more information about what we need to do and what steps we might need to take should there be even a further outbreak,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti. “And so this is only now going to become part of the toolkit of state government in order to protect public health generally.”
Belatti said the positive test results will come from clinicians and State laboratories — home tests are not accounted for — and added that COVID has become endemic in Hawaii.
KHON2 asked, “Why are we still putting money into trying to learn about the spread of this disease when a lot is known about it already?”
“Well, it’s still only a disease that’s been with us since 2020, three years,” Rep. Belatti said. “And public health means knowing what’s going on in the community and then being able to educate folks as to what are the things that they can do to protect others in their communities.”
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Omnitrak Group directed KHON2 News to the DOH for comment — officials said they were working on a response.