As summer COVID-19 surges usher masking and distancing back in across the US, contact tracing is being left in the toolbox.
Many states began dialing back tracing months ago; Texas’ new budget bans contact tracing funding altogether.
That’s a missed opportunity, says Tom Frieden, chief of Resolve to Save Lives, noting that contact tracing can help:
- Reveal how fast variants spread and identify hot spots
- Reduce transmission in schools; limit closings
- Target at-risk populations for vaccination
Time for a rebrand: Frieden suggests a new name: “Covid support services”—emphasizing assistance infected or exposed, including:
- Services to access housing, care, food and essentials
- Compensation for missed work
That will take government support—but also community trust, something that’s largely been lacking in the US.