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A Facebook post claims new federal legislation to support contact tracing “is about controlling/tracking population, not about coronavirus.”
The bill strictly targets the novel coronavirus. It would provide $100 billion to organizations that do COVID-19 contact tracing and testing, or that offer services to people who are isolating at home.
Proposed legislation in the U.S. House would provide new funding for testing and contract tracing to help public-health officials track and control the spread of the coronavirus.
But a Facebook post claims that the $100 billion bill "is about controlling/tracking population, not about coronavirus."
The May 12 post, which had more than 100,000 views by the next day, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The $100 billion is strictly targeted to fight COVID-19. It would fund not only contact tracing, a process aimed at stopping the spread of the disease, but also COVID-19 testing and services for people isolating at home.
Contact tracing has become a key strategy of the White House plan to reopen states that went into shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. The process tasks public health workers with learning as much as they can about whom a patient has been in contact with, so they can be notified about their potential exposure.
While it does raise some privacy concerns, contact tracing has been used to slow the spread of other diseases, such as SARS and HIV. It’s a common strategy in public health agencies across the country.
State and local public health officials are hiring thousands of new contact tracers, but some experts say the federal government needs to spend billions of dollars to bolster those efforts.
The claim about the proposed legislation is made by former television news reporter Ben Swann, who describes himself as a "journalist who speaks truth to power!" He runs TruthInMedia.com, which says it provides "content focusing on issues that impact humanity."
The headline of Swann’s post is: "H.R. 6666: $100 Billion Contact Tracing Bill is About Controlling/Tracking Population, Not About Coronavirus."
The post says:
"A House resolution from Illinois Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush that would put Big Government in charge of tracking citizens’ movements as they relate to COVID-19 mitigation efforts — even sending health bureaucrats to ‘individuals’ residences, as necessary,’ as the legislation states."
That wording is nearly the same as the first paragraph of a Washington Times article that’s labeled opinion/analysis and was published the same day as the Facebook post.
The post also includes a 15-minute video in which Swann claims the bill would create "a massive new surveillance structure in this country."
In the video, which we did not fact-check, Swann argues that contact tracing is useful only in the early stages of an outbreak and now "is completely useless" in the United States because "a massive amount of the population have been exposed to the disease." Based on that, Swann argues that the contact tracing supported by the bill would be done to "monitor you in your own home, traced in your home, your associations monitored, your movements monitored."
H.R. 6666 was introduced by Rush on May 1 and is called the COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone Act, or TRACE Act.
It would provide $100 billion in grants in the current fiscal year to faith-based organization, clinics, medical centers and other organizations that:
Perform testing for COVID–19;
Do contact tracing; or
Provide services for individuals who are isolating at home.
The bill would "authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to eligible entities to conduct diagnostic testing for COVID–19, and related activities such as contact tracing, through mobile health units and, as necessary, at individuals’ residences, and for other purposes."
Swann told PolitiFact that the "other purposes" wording "leaves room for interpretation and expansion."
A Facebook post claims new federal legislation to support COVID-19 testing and contact tracing "is about controlling/tracking population, not about coronavirus."
The bill strictly targets the novel coronavirus. It would provide $100 billion to organizations that do COVID-19 testing or contact tracing or that provide services to people who are isolating at home.
We rate the Facebook post False.
Facebook, post, May 12, 2020
Email, Ben Swann, May 13, 2020
Snopes, "Does H.R. 6666 Require People to Be Vaccinated for COVID-19?," May 11, 2020
Reuters, "Partly false claim: Congress introduced bill HR6666 providing grants to organizations on condition they only allow people that ‘have the COVID-19 vaccination’ into their facilities," May 12, 2020
GovTrack, "H.R. 6666: COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone (TRACE) Act," updated May 13, 2020
Medium.com, "It’s not the sign of the devil: A case of political misinformation during the covid-19 pandemic," May 12, 2020
Library of Congress, H.R. 6666, accessed May 13, 2020
PolitiFact, "Contact tracing: How it's used to fight COVID-19," April 17, 2020
Washington Times, "H.R. 6666 a devil of a COVID-19 government surveillance plot," May 12, 2020
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