COVID-19 Contact Tracing Conundrums: Insights from the Front Lines


COVID-19 contact tracing is an induction social network intervention in which the structure of the social network is leveraged to deploy proven COVID-19 interventions such as testing and social distancing. The Howard Brown Health organization has rapidly expanded to include COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and linkage to resources since the first cases were identified in Chicago, Illinois. COVID-19 is penetrating the most vulnerable networks in the United States; existing inequities are widening as community resources and organizations have had to place services on hold. Here we address several questions that arise as organizations build capacity for contact tracing, including questions involving the potential impact of contact tracing, stakeholders who could be involved, the timing of contact tracing deployment, and the impact potential for digital technology. Contact tracing is critical at later stages of epidemic decline given the potential for isolated outbreaks as larger events, schools, stadiums, and festivals reopen. Local contact tracing efforts can have other indirect benefits with respect to limiting transmission, such as increasing testing rates and addressing structural barriers through provision of life-saving resources and access to crucial social support.

Publication Year: 2021

Lead Author: John Schneider

Journal: American Journal of Public Health