COVID-19 Contact tracing solutions for mass gatherings

Benjamin J. Ryan, Damon Coppola, James Williams, Raymond Swienton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Mass gatherings and high-density activities such as sporting events, conventions and theme parks are consistently included among highest-risk activities given the increased potential for widespread COVID-19 transmission. A more balanced risk management approach is required because absolute suppression of risk is unrealistic in all facets of life. Contact tracing remains a limiting factor in achieving such a balance. The use of Bluetooth or pairing devices is proposed to address this challenge. This simple approach, when applied in a manner that satisfies privacy and trust concerns, would allow high-risk encounters to be quickly identified, namely those where participants have spent 15 or more minutes within 6 feet of each other per current guidelines. If an attendee later tests positive for COVID-19 and tracing is required, the event organizer can provide a limited list of potential close contacts rather than an exhaustive list of all attendees. Contact tracers can therefore limit efforts to this concise list rather than needing to contact thousands of people or conduct mass media communications. Such a system, if institutionalized, supports risk assurance and safety measures for businesses by demonstrating a commitment to staff, customer protection and ensuring high-risk encounters are logged, reinforcing longer-term societal pandemic resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDisaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • contact tracing
  • environmental health
  • mass gathering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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