Scientists are certainly on board with social distancing as a method to put a dent in the novel coronavirus pandemic, but they also acknowledge other measures will eventually have to take over as restrictions ease, Vox reports.
“The classic epidemiological approach to controlling disease is not to shut down society; it’s to target the people you know to have the disease and understand who they’re spreading it to,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development.
Right now, that’s not possible in the United States, because there isn’t an adequate amount of testing, but “once you bring the numbers back to a manageable level,” Konyndyk said, expansive testing and contact tracing should become the prominent methods for suppressing the virus’ spread.
It won’t be easy, however. Caitlin Rivers, a professor at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said “it’s very labor-intensive to find contact of people who are sick” in part because one aspect of contact tracing is continually checking on people to see if they’ve become sick themsleves. Kondynyk said such an enterprise would take “tens of thousands” of health care workers, if not more. That likely means at least some social distancing measures should remain in place simultaneously.
Scientists, though, are concerned that they’re not seeing a test-and-trace vision coming from the federal government, so it remains unclear if “textbook epidemiology” will have its day. Read more at Vox. Tim O’Donnell