What's the ethical position in this COVID situation?

I should also have thanked everyone who replied in my last post. Sorry it ended so abruptly.

Are we still at the point where infection is so shameful we don’t want to be publicly outed? When I thought I had it (I didn’t) I had been at a party and swore if I tested positive I would tell them. And you know why that’s the right thing to do? One of our good friends at the party later got the covid visiting family so when he got back and started treatment he had been infected maybe 5 or 6 days.

He died from it.

That’s awful, I’m sorry, @Saint_Cad

But yes, of course you should warn people they’ve been exposed. It might prevent one of them from visiting their immune-compromised elderly relative. It might help one of them get treatment faster. At the worst, people who get that information will just ignore it, and no harm is done.

I wouldn’t give out the name of the person who was sick without their permission. Not because of the law, just because it’s polite not to share someone’s health info without their permission. But i sure as hell would give people the actionable information.

I’d say the same if you knew a group of people was exposed to flu, or pinkeye, or norovirus.

While saying that I am on the side of disclosing, I think I understand the other side-- at this point, anyone going to a pre-pandemic-style event needs to assume there is a risk of exposure. In a large enough group, someone is certain to be positive and not know it yet.

We take precautions. We get vaccinated. We don’t share glasses; we don’t take food that has been on someone else’s plate; we don’t kiss hello. We no longer handshake, and there is hand sanitizer next to every box of Kleenex, so after you blow your nose you can sanitize. At outdoor eating situations, when handwashing isn’t easy, we provide hand sanitizer near the plates as well.

If all this was done at the event, then people were not at that much risk.

Well, that is, people who were at normal levels of risk to begin with. You can’t assume that was everyone that. Which takes us up back to my first sentence.

None of that is terribly relevant for covid, which is not much spread via fomites.

Covid is mostly spread by air, and if you were in a living room for an hour and a half with someone infectious, all unmasked as you ate lunch, you were exposed

If this was an event with 1000 people and one had covid, sure, of course someone did. If this was a more ordinary private party, with 15 or 30 guests, the odds are that no one has covid.

I would warn guests of any nasty and extremely contagious illness at my party. Even very mild ones, like pink eye. But much more so with covid, which is currently the third leading cause of death in the US. There is so much opportunity for someone to use that information to prevent a tragedy. For instance, delaying a visit to a vulnerable friend or relative until you are less likely to be contagious yourself.

If you are high-risk, you can be prescribed Paxlovid. But you have to start taking if within 3-5 days of first testing positive. So knowing when you were exposed lets you test in a timely way.