What is Contact Tracing???
During an infectious disease outbreak, one of the best tools public health experts have is old-school detective work: finding each sick person and then figuring out who they recently interacted with. The technique, called contact tracing, helps get outbreaks of diseases like COVID-19 under control.
In order to lift social distancing measures like school closures and “stay home” orders, public health agencies will have to start aggressively contact tracing and at a much higher level than they were a few months ago
That will keep new cases of the virus from growing into new outbreaks. The US can only relax stay-at-home orders and social distancing policies if it’s doing enough contact tracing to catch new outbreaks before they explode.
Contact tracing is based on an obvious idea: people in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are at risk of getting sick. The process isn’t easy. When a person gets sick, they are then interviewed by public health officials and asked who has been exposed to them. Then they take that list and fan out to ask those people either to pay close attention to how they’re feeling or to quarantine. If a person who was exposed is infected, their recent contacts will be tracked down, too. The process continues until everyone who’s been exposed is out of circulation. That stops virus transmission.
“The viruses then have nowhere to go,” says John Swartzberg, clinical professor emeritus in the infectious diseases and vaccinology division at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health.