Public health surveillance
Public health surveillance is a powerful tool.
In particular, public health depends on surveillance and monitoring systems to achieve its goals, including COVID-19 prevention and control. Yet, surveillance approaches used to monitor COVID-19 and other health conditions may inadvertently place socially marginalized populations at risk for harm due to existing systemic inequities that disproportionately criminalize racial groups and poverty (e.g., through incarceration, deportation, loss of jobs).
Surveillance strategies can be harmful
It is critical to recognize where collection of COVID-19 data crosses purposes with other surveillance systems documented to increase harm for racial/ethnic communities.
For example, data shared between law enforcement and public health may be efficient for law enforcement goals, but the agencies have different needs, potentially putting at odds the outcome of collecting such information.