States’ Lean Contact Tracing Teams ‘Overwhelmed,’ And Officials Fear There’s Little Help Coming
Contact tracing is viewed by experts as a key component to reopening the country, but it takes time, money and resources -- all of which are thin for already overstretched public health departments. Meanwhile, federal virus hunters are hamstrung by an outdated system that relied on fax machines and paper documents. And a promising solution posed by tracing apps could breed a host of other smaller problems.
The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Falling Short On Needed Contact Tracers, Experts Say
When the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in March, George Roberts, chief executive of the Northeast Texas Public Health District, set his three contact tracers to work tracking everyone who had been close to infected people. “They were absolutely overwhelmed within moments,” Mr. Roberts said. Desperate for help, he recruited employees of nearby Tyler, Texas, including police officers, firefighters and the district attorney’s office, beefing up his staff to 26. (Jamerson, 5/10)
States Build Contact Tracing Armies To Crush Coronavirus
State governments are building armies of contact tracers in a new phase of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, returning to a fundamental practice in public health that can at once wrestle the virus under control and put hundreds of thousands of newly jobless people back to work... Contact tracing is a pillar of basic public health, a critical element in battling infectious disease around the globe. The goal is to identify those who have been infected with a virus and those with whom the infected person has come into contact. (Wilson, 5/10)
Virus Hunters Rely On Faxes, Paper Records As More States Reopen
A runaway global pandemic is killing tens of thousands of Americans, requiring one of the most cutting edge, data-driven national health responses in American history to stop the virus spread. So what are many public health officials using to share information? Fax machines and paper records. The nation's public health tech system, from the CDC down to local agencies, are relying on technology from the turn of the 21st century that’s slowing efforts to track infected people, gauge how fast the virus is spreading and coordinate resources. It's the result of years of missed opportunities and a technology blitz that modernized big parts of American medicine but left public health agencies behind. (Tahir, 5/10)
The Wall Street Journal:
Curbing Coronavirus With A Contact-Tracing App? It’s Not So Simple.
Who would be interested in my exact whereabouts that morning? If I were to have subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, a contact tracer would. (Yes, shadier types might also be interested.) Think of a contact tracer like a public-health detective. They ask infected patients where they’ve been, who they’ve interacted with and when it happened. Then they track down those people and businesses to tell them about their exposure to the virus and to recommend quarantining or cleaning to slow the spread. (Stern, 5/9)
COVID-19 Cluster Traced To Southern California Birthday Party: Health Department
The Pasadena Public Health Department is reminding residents to stay home after a cluster of COVID-19 cases were traced to a birthday party in the Southern California city. More than five confirmed cases and "many more ill individuals" were tied to the party, the department announced. The party was held in early April, after the state's stay-at-home order went into effect. (Deliso, 5/10)