Today's Article
Those of a certain
age will remember that
contact tracing was
successfully used in
the U.S. in the 1980s
and 1990s to lessen
the spread of AIDS.
The American Spark
Why U.S. Should Use Contact Tracing To Combat COVID-19

By Cliff Montgomery - Aug. 29th, 2020

The Coronavirus - also known as COVID-19 - has killed more people in the United States than in any other
nation in the world and its people also have suffered the highest number of infections, according to data
obtained from Johns Hopkins University.

Clearly, we’re doing something wrong.

One of our major problems is that the current occupant of the White House routinely treats science and logic
with open contempt - it’s a bit like living in Europe during the Dark Ages. The inevitable result is that viruses
have a field day and run wild among the populace.

We may not yet have a vaccine to eliminate COVID-19. But those of us who remember the occasional

benefits of employing science and logic to solve our problems know that these handy activities may still
empower us to lessen the effects of the virus.

One possible logical activity is known as
contact tracing.

“Contact tracing is a classic tool of public health investigation used to identify the close contacts of persons
infected with a communicable disease, notify them of potential exposure, and enable control measures such
as quarantining exposed persons,” stated a
recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) release on the
subject.

If you’ve read
American Spark articles in the past, you know that “CRS serves as non-partisan shared staff to
congressional committees and Members of Congress. It operates solely at the behest of and under the
direction of Congress,” according to one CRS self-description.

Those of a certain age will probably remember that contact tracing was successfully used in the U.S. in the
1980s and 1990s to help control the spread of the AIDS virus.

One last thing: We feel the need to remind people during these confusing times that science and logic are,

by their very nature, incapable of being ‘politicized’. Objective facts cannot be politicized. Only denials of
objective fact are politicized acts.

Thus by definition, there is no such thing as an ‘alternative fact’.

So if we ignore the benefits of contact tracing, we do so at our continued peril.

Below, the
American Spark quotes a major segment of the short CRS release:


Contact tracing is a classic tool of public health investigation used to identify the close contacts of persons
infected with a communicable disease, notify them of potential exposure, and enable control measures such
as quarantining exposed persons. Contact tracing programs are generally subject to state, territorial, tribal,
and local laws and policies.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assists jurisdictions’ programs by providing
guidance, technical assistance, and funding. Several public health experts affiliated with universities (e.g.,
Johns Hopkins University), policy research organizations (e.g., American Enterprise Institute), and state
associations (e.g., National Governors Association) have posited that contact tracing (combined with
adequate diagnostic testing) could help prevent surges in infections, particularly when case counts are low.

“Contact tracing to control Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19 has been used with arguable success in
countries such as South Korea, Taiwan, Iceland, and New Zealand—many attribute their relatively low re
-
ported case counts, in part, to successful contact tracing.

“However, several experts assert that a successful contact tracing effort in the United States would require
additional workforce and possibly the use of new technologies by jurisdictions.Federalism has led to
heterogeneous contact tracing efforts across states. As the pandemic progresses, Congress may consider
whether and how to guide U.S. contact tracing efforts.

What is Contact Tracing?

“Contact tracing, a component of public health investigation, is a core tool of communicable disease control.

U.S. jurisdictions’ public health departments have used contact tracing to help control the spread of diseases
like HIV and tuberculosis.

“Typically, when a confirmed case of a disease is identified and determined to require a case investigation,
public health departments contact the patient and conduct extensive interviews to acquire information about
persons with whom the patient may have been in contact and therefore possibly exposed to the disease.

“Those individuals are then notified by either the patient or the health department and then referred for
testing, prophylaxis, and/or treatment (if available) or asked/required to self-quarantine (depending on the
applicable jurisdiction’s laws and policies).

“Contacts are usually informed by health departments of a potential disease exposure, but are not given the
identity of the individual who exposed them.

COVID-19 Specific Considerations

“Given that COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person and can be transmitted by asymptomatic
individuals, controlling COVID-19 may require more robust contact tracing capacity than existed in many
jurisdictions prior to the pandemic.

“In addition, given the lack of available vaccines or prophylaxis for COVID-19, health departments usually
request that exposed individuals voluntarily self-quarantine and may conduct regular follow-up and/or facilitate
housing and other support programs for quarantine.

“Experts generally advocate two approaches to expanding U.S contact tracing—expanding the contact tracing
workforce and the use of new technologies to help identify and notify potential contacts.

“Some domestic COVID-19 contact tracing efforts have faced initial challenges with individuals refusing to
share information with health departments, indicating potential individual liberty and privacy considerations.”



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