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Ross: Would Americans trade privacy for end to coronavirus outbreak?

(AP Photo/Sang Tan, file)

Despite all the criticism, we have to admit President Trump managed to convince most of his base – which instinctively mistrusts government – to accept staying at home and not driving.

Ross: Is Trump finally taking coronavirus threat seriously?

That is no small accomplishment. Can you imagine Trump conservatives obeying a Democratic president who told people not to drive?

But now we have to think ahead, to how we go back to work without re-infecting people. And I’m not sure we’re going to see the same unanimity on that.

Everything I hear points to testing and tracking as the way to avoid a rebound: Finding out who has the virus, and then tracking them until they’re free of it.

There are apps that do just that – I downloaded the one Israel is using. It took my location data from Google Maps for the last three months and then displayed a message:

“According to the data collected, no points of intersection have been found with coronavirus patients.”

I raised this idea with Jevin West, who analyzes data at the University of Washington, which has supplied the national models for the spread of the epidemic.

Sorting through endless coronavirus data

“One of the victims of this infectious disease is going to be privacy I think – at least in the United States,” West predicted. “I think more and more Americans are going to say ‘hey give me that app!’”

Maybe. But I wonder, would Americans accept tracking as the price of opening the economy? I’m not sure even Donald Trump could pull that off.

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