Contact Tracing, Once An Obscure Public Health Strategy, Now Takes Center Stage
Contact tracing will be key to safely reopening the country, but building up enough of an army for those efforts to be successful challenges stretched-thin state health departments. One small New Jersey town seems to have gotten it right though.
The New York Times:
As The Nation Begins Virus Tracing, It Could Learn From This N.J. City
The Uber driver had lost his sense of smell and taste but otherwise felt fine. He kept driving passengers in this small, industrial city until last week, when he took a test for Covid-19. By Friday, Jean Mugulusi of the Paterson Health Department was on the phone with him, breaking the news that he had tested positive and asking for a list of his recent passengers. He gave her eight phone numbers. “You came into contact with somebody who tested positive for Covid-19, so I need you to self-isolate,” Ms. Mugulusi told one of those passengers, a young man who worked in a factory. (Otterman, 5/21)
The Associated Press:
Detective, Nurse, Confidant: Virus Tracers Play Many Roles
Health investigator Mackenzie Bray smiles and chuckles as she chats by phone with a retired Utah man who just tested positive for the coronavirus. She’s trying to keep the mood light because she needs to find out where he’s been and who he’s been around for the past seven days. She gently peppers him with questions, including where he and his wife stopped to buy flowers on a visit to a cemetery. She encourages him to go through his bank statement to see if it reminds him of any store visits he made. (McCombs, 5/21)
In other news about the spread of the virus —
The Wall Street Journal:
Superspreader Events Offer A Clue On Curbing Coronavirus
Some scientists looking for ways to prevent a return to exponential growth in coronavirus infections after lockdowns are lifted are zeroing in on a new approach: focus on avoiding superspreading events. The theory is that banning mass public events where hundreds of attendees can infect themselves in the space of a few hours, along with other measures such as wearing face masks, might slow the pace of the new coronavirus’s progression to a manageable level even as shops and factories reopen. (Pancevski, 5/20)
The Washington Post:
How Many People Are Infected With The Coronavirus? A Major Study Will Attempt To Provide An Answer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is embarking on an expansive study of the prevalence of novel coronavirus antibodies in people in 25 metropolitan areas, an effort to provide long-awaited insight into the way the virus is spreading and its presence in communities. The study, which plans to test 325,000 people by fall 2021, will build on an antibody study that has been underway in six of those cities since March, according to Michael Busch, who is overseeing the study and is director of the Vitalant Research Institute. CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund confirmed plans to announce the study but declined to discuss details. (Janes, 5/20)