Contact Tracing, a Key Way to Slow COVID-19, Is Badly Underused by the U.S.

July 23, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce

Last modified July 24, 2020

According to this article by Scientific American, there is one proved tool that has helped other countries contain the pandemic – but in the U.S. it is severely underused. The tool is contact tracing, and it often meets resistance from the people it is intended to help.

The tracing approach is built on a simple idea: When someone tests positive for the new coronavirus or becomes sick with COVID-19, you find all the people the infected person came into contact with, because they, too, may be infected. Then you help them quarantine for two weeks—almost everyone who becomes sick will show symptoms within 14 days—so they do not accidentally spread the virus any further. The goal is to stop the chain of transmission.

The U.S. has no national strategy for contact tracing, says Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). Instead “the federal government has said to states, ‘do as you wish,’” she adds.

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