On Monday, United States of Care (USofCare) spearheaded a letter to Congressional leadership — from public health experts and business and community leaders — calling for more funding for contact tracing in the upcoming coronavirus relief bill. Joining USofCare were American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Health Security, Pacific Business Group on Health, and Service Year Alliance.
“Our organizations take seriously the responsibility to keep our communities and the nation safe, which is why we consider state contact tracing an investment in people, the economy, and the long-term future of our country,” declared the authors. “Whether through shoe leather, technology or both, this tried and true public health strategy is inextricably linked to our ability to keep our economy open with employee and consumer confidence. The lack of robust contact tracing has resulted in the very surges — we have worked so hard to prevent — erasing the sacrifices that people, communities, and businesses have made.”
- Although the $25 billion included in the CARES Act has helped nearly every state begin to scale up contact tracing capacity, at least 100,000 or more tracers are needed to meaningfully control the transmission of the virus as states continue to lift social distancing restrictions.
- The pandemic has decimated state budgets, which has significantly impacted their ability to augment contact tracing.
- States will need robust funding to sustain contact tracing efforts throughout the pandemic.
Added the authors, “Our commitment to the public health of our communities and the nation requires people to feel safe enough to resume economic, educational, religious, and social activities. It will be difficult to get to that point if we are unable to ensure the safety of people across the country.”
The letter comes amid alarming surges of new cases across America and reports that support for billions of dollars for states to conduct testing and contact tracing in the upcoming coronavirus relief bill is waning.