Gov. Jay Inslee has called for a “rapid-response” contact tracing effort as part of his plan for the gradual reopening of Washington state, likening it to “something like a fire brigade.”
Contact tracing is a method by which public health officials identify individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and track down anyone they may have been in contact with. These contacts are then informed and tested themselves; those who test positive are recommended to self-quarantine for two weeks to prevent further spread of the virus.
Individual tracing has previously been used for other disease outbreaks such as tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases.
“It definitely has been successful in prior outbreaks and it’s used routinely for public health,” Dr. Janet Baseman of the School of Public Health said of the practice.
When the first case of the virus arrived in King County in late February, early contact tracing efforts were activated, according to Baseman, who led a group of students to aid the measures.