A public health expert who led the fight against the Ebola outbreak in Liberia says the United States is downplaying one strategy key to stopping the coronavirus pandemic: contact tracing.
Tolbert Nyenswah, senior research associate at the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, thinks successful contact tracing could reopen the country within two to three months.
“By now, 100% of all people coming in contact with COVID-19 patients must be traced,” he said. “Even one missed contact can keep the outbreak going on and on and on.”
According to a report released last week by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the nation needs a new workforce of 100,000 contact tracers. At that scale, the effort would require $3.6 billion, researchers projected. They called for an infusion of emergency funding from Congress.
Their estimates are based on what has worked in other countries. In the Wuhan, China region where the outbreak started, 9,000 contact tracers were rapidly deployed to curb the spread in the city of 11 million.