To end social distancing, the U.S. must dramatically ramp up contact tracing

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 - 10:46 in Psychology & Sociology

Right now, many countries are fighting the spread of COVID-19 with the bluntest tool possible: widespread social distancing. To deny the virus the opportunity to hop between people, most of us are staying in, regardless of whether we’ve come into contact with the virus. But social distancing, which has saved lives and eased the burden on hospitals, comes at a high cost. Lost jobs, closed businesses and a frozen economy have many people anxious for restrictions to be eased and for life to get back to normal.  If countries hit the restart button now, epidemiologists say that the virus will come roaring back, exploiting the fact that so many people are still susceptible. Until a vaccine arrives, two key measures will need to pick up the slack as social distancing is eased. One is widespread, easily accessible testing (SN: 4/17/20). And for tests that come back positive, a second system must quickly identify people who may have been infected by that person to prevent...

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