Lessons from the blocked contact tracing efforts in the United States: Short Wave: NPR

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The first step in contact tracing is for an investigator to contact someone who has tested positive and ask for their list of potential exposure. Then, sensitization is carried out to ensure the quarantine of these people. Resources are coordinated to make sure they have what they need to quarantine.

John Moore / Getty Images


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John Moore / Getty Images


The first step in contact tracing is for an investigator to contact someone who has tested positive and ask for their list of potential exposure. Then, sensitization is carried out to ensure the quarantine of these people. Resources are coordinated to make sure they have what they need to quarantine.

John Moore / Getty Images

At the start of the pandemic, contact tracing was seen as one of the best options for curbing the spread of coronavirus infections. The idea was to ask public health officials to track down people who tested positive, determine who they had been in contact with, and quickly quarantine those people. Places like Hong Kong and Singapore grabbed the headlines for their successes. The United States intended to replicate this, but failed. Today, health reporter Selena Simmons-Duffin explains what went wrong and the lessons learned.

Read more Selena’s contact tracing reports.

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This episode was edited by Gisele Grayson, produced by Rebecca Ramirez and verified by Indi Khera. The sound engineer was Marcia Caldwell.

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