UNC Student Creates Anonymous COVID-19 Contact Tracing Website


Over the past week, students may have noticed scraps of paper stuck to surfaces all over campus, encouraging them to report possible COVID-19 exposures using a printed QR code.

This QR code leads to the website of UNςTrace, an anonymous COVID-19 contact tracing initiative not affiliated with a university. It was created by sophomore year one Sophie van Duin almost two weeks ago.

She was inspired to launch the website after a discussion in her English class about University COVID-19 policies and the need to educate the community. A classmate referred to UNC’s contact tracing procedures as one area that could be improved.

“We didn’t know the people in our class who could potentially have COVID,” van Duin said. “The data doesn’t really reflect how many people I see missing from my classes, and how many people my teachers say, ‘Yeah, they’re in quarantine. “”

As a result, van Duin said data from the UNςTrace website specifically focuses on potential class exposures.

The report form includes options for students to submit known exposure reports or positive tests, including if they have symptoms of COVID-19. There are also boxes to include information about specific classes and buildings in the dormitory.

She said there have only been a few submissions so far, but van Duin hopes to publish the report’s raw data in a spreadsheet soon with summaries of the individual classes or residences that have reported cases and exhibitions.

The UNC does not publish data on cases in schools or departments, and generally does not include classmates in the close contact lists of those who test positive for COVID-19, according to a message to the community in the United States. Amy Johnson Vice-Chancellor Student Affairs campus.

“A close contact is a person who has been within six feet of a known positive for more than 15 minutes of cumulative time, regardless of whether a face mask has been worn by either party. “, indicates the message. “People who are at least six feet apart in a classroom or group will generally not be considered close contact. “

In many classrooms, however, students are less than six feet apart. Sophomore Vishal Easwar said the close proximity to her classmates was sometimes worrying.

“It is certainly a concern, given that there is very little space between us,” he said. “And although I have seen an adherence to masking, I am concerned about the number of students actually vaccinated.”

According to the Carolina Together website, 93% of students and 84% of all employees testified that they were vaccinated on Wednesday.

Johnson said in a statement that the university was gravely concerned about sharing confidential medical information through unofficial sites.

“These sites are not a reliable way to measure your risk and can create an unnecessary cause for alarm or a false sense of security,” Johnson said. “We have trained professionals who, in coordination with the Orange County Health Department, do very in-depth contact tracing for the campus community.”

The UNςTrace website is completely anonymous, said van Duin, and does not collect any identifying information.

She added that she was unwilling to withdraw other UNC or North Carolina initiatives for COVID-19 tracing and security, such as the UNC-Chapel Hill COVID-19 dashboard and the ‘SlowCOVIDNC application.

“It’s not meant to replace existing tools,” van Duin said. “My point was more just to add as an additional tool, not to replace anything, just to add an additional resource for people who felt they could use it. “

Editor-in-chief Nayeli Jaramillo-Plata contributed reporting.



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