NY sheriff threatens to charge those who lie to contact tracers

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) Clinton County Sheriff Dave Favro says he is concerned about talk circulating that people might lie to contact tracers this summer if they end up sick with the coronavirus.

"I heard something last night that was pretty alarming," Favro said. "That's deplorable, that's pretty pathetic of a human being to take that approach. That's selfish, that's disrespectful."

Contact tracing is a key element of New York and other state's plans to keep track of the virus' spread. After a person is confirmed with COVID-19, contact tracers will ask them a series of questions regarding who they were with in recent weeks. Anyone who was in close contact with an infected person is expected to quarantine for 14 days.

"I think it's kind of ridiculous," said Mikayla Wagstaff, one of several Plattsburgh residents we spoke with. "We're trying to protect everyone here and what's the point in lying. The more that we lie, the more that we don't do what we are supposed to be doing, the longer this is going to be and the longer that everyone is going to complain about it."

"It's a lose, lose," said Joseph Ferguson. "Do you want to still be in society? It's like outing yourself when you don't really know specifically if you have it or not."

"I mean, as long as me and the people who are most at risk are taking the necessary precautions, I think that's what's most important," said Jonathan Ouimette.

Sheriff Favro says if law enforcement can prove this is happening, he will find a way to press criminal charges. "I think that is an intentional, willful, desire to want to make things worse and not make things better," he said.

But some aren't sure law enforcement will help the situation. "I don't know whether or not pressing charges is even going to change anything. People get arrested for much bigger things and it doesn't deter them from doing those things again," Wagstaff said.