COVID-19

Survey shows mixed feelings about contract tracing, quarantining

Jasmine Garsd Nov 2, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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A woman looks out from her front door while quarantining at home this April in Long Island, New York. John Moore/Getty Images
COVID-19

Survey shows mixed feelings about contract tracing, quarantining

Jasmine Garsd Nov 2, 2020
A woman looks out from her front door while quarantining at home this April in Long Island, New York. John Moore/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Americans have some discomfort over one of the main tools for fighting COVID-19: contact tracing.

New polling data from the Pew Research Center finds a significant minority of people would be wary of engaging with public health officials over the phone, by text or in person, and don’t trust their personal information will be kept safe and secure.

And 32% of Americans would find it somewhat to very difficult to quarantine if asked to do so by contact tracers. Among the reasons they gave? Too difficult to miss work or arrange child care.

“Essential workers were probably more likely to fall in that category,” said Lee Rainie from the Pew Research Center. “Black Americans and Hispanic Americans were somewhat more likely than white Americans.” 

In the survey, Republicans, young people and those who identified as Hispanic were less likely to engage with contact tracers. 

As cases surge in the U.S., experts are increasingly worried about this. Marissa Baker from the University of Washington said public health isn’t separate from economic recovery.

“You need to have workers who are safe,” she said. “Workers who are empowered to stay home when they are sick and take care of themselves and their family, and workplaces that are encouraging that.”

But Jacob Bor, a professor of global health and epidemiology at Boston University, said it is getting a little late for contact tracing and quarantining.

“Those are effective once the amount of virus going around in the community and the number of new cases is relatively small,” he said. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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