What's the ethical position in this COVID situation?

This may not be a Great Debate, but I wasn’t sure if it belonged in the Zone. So there was a neighborhood get-together/tree-planting on Sunday. People socialized, ate good chili, and so on. Then yesterday afternoon a friend of my mother’s said she wasn’t feeling well. She got a kit from us, tested, and it was positive. I insisted that we had a moral obligation to tell others there that she may have been positive during the event. My mom says there’s no point since if they got it by now it wouldn’t help to know it. This seems callous and unethical to me, but I can’t articulate why. She’s not likely to change her mind, I just want to understand my own position. Shouldn’t giving that knowledge be the right thing to do as a neighbor?

Is it so they can decide whether to Typhoid Mary someone else?

Can’t say whether it’s callous or unethical, but it’s certainly short-sighted.

Yes, you absolutely should inform the others. While they may already be infected, it’s not too late for them to avoid spreading it to others.

Plus, if any of them are high-risk, they may need to take other precautions.

Use your own ethics, and call people.

So that would, in theory, trump the privacy of medical issues such as COVID infection? I agree, I’m just clarifying.

Are you her caregiver?

ETA: Ah, on re-read, it’s a friend of mom who is sick, and it’s mom who doesn’t want to inform the others.

There is no medical privacy issue if a friend tells you how they are or if they are sick. If you’re their doctor, it’s different.

I meant the “It’s not your business” kind of privacy as opposed to a more formal type, but I get your meaning.

If the OP phrases his messaging to the other people at the event as “potential exposure” I think it passes any ethical boundaries.

It is not revealing who exactly may be responsible, and there could be more than one.

Morally and ethically, you are covered. Legally, this should take care of “You knew and didn’t tell anyone? I am suing your sorry ass!” situations.

You should tell others that they may have been exposed. You don’t need to disclose who it was.

That’s what I was thinking. Just like when someone at my kid’s school tests positive, they don’t say who it was, you just get a call stating that “someone” tested positive and your kid may have been exposed.

Which allows them to associate with the infected over and over again, thus increasing their chances of also becoming infected.

If mom’s friend asked that it’s kept secret that she tested positive, I think you need to respect that. Why she wants to keep it a secret is beyond me – we get the same crap at work. Who cares who knows that I tested positive? But, all we get is a notification that we may have been exposed.

ETA: I’m going to assume here that mom’s friend would not go out associating with anyone until she’s past the quarantine period.

People will guess anyway just by who’s giving the news. If it’s not the OP or their mom, then it’s one of their close friends.

But in that situation the infected child is isolated from the others. In the OP’s tale, there is no indication that the infected is isolating themselves-there just seems to be an effort to keep it quiet.

@Love_Rhombus, is your mom’s friend isolating for some time?

Here at school they announce someone tested positive but do not give out the name of the person. I think that is the proper methodology because it gives people a warning that they may have been exposed while preserving the privacy the the individual who tested positive.

Sure, but which one? Same with the school situation. The kids can take a pretty good guess at who it was based on who doesn’t show up to school the next day, but it’s still a guess and about as much as the school can do without revealing PHI.

That’s a reasonable assumption, but it’s just an assumption. For all we know she IS isolating and just doesn’t want the people at the party to know (maybe she’s embarrassed). There’s not a whole lot that can be (practically) done as far as warning people she will (but hasn’t yet) come into contact with over the next few weeks.

She is as of now. I don’t know what reason she’s giving.

EDIT: I just learned she is telling people now she isolating because she has COVID. Good for her. The mods can close this down or keep it going if folks think there’s more to chew over about hypotheticals if Mom Rhombus should have told.