On Nov. 16, there was a news story about contact tracers not trying to investigate every COVID case in New Hampshire. The first paragraph made it clear the state is swamped because of the big increase in number of new cases. We just don’t have enough contact tracers working in our public health agencies to deal with the situation. We need more.
I believe we failed to recruit, train and utilize sufficient contact tracers because we were depending on the rate of COVID spread in New Hampshire staying low. Well, it didn’t stay low, and now we are failing the people of our state.
There is a wide spectrum of things we can do to fight this pandemic. We can wear masks, close bars, promote handwashing and encourage physical distancing in our interactions with other people. We can contact trace; invent, manufacture, distribute and administer vaccines; ensure good health delivery procedures in hospitals and nursing homes; and make sure nurses and doctors have the resources and support they need to treat those who are sick.
Every part of this is important.
Contact tracing has traditionally been the responsibility of local and state public health agencies. It is one of the most basic and important tools we have to fight infectious diseases, from tuberculosis to sexually transmitted diseases. Instead of shifting priorities we need to make sure we have the ability to increase all of the effective approaches simultaneously.
Instead of abandoning universal contact tracing, there should be a call to greatly increase the number of good contact tracers. This will cost money, and the Legislature and governor should rise to the challenge. We will need them all the more as vaccines begin to slowly reduce the rates of infection over the next year or two.
Beating this pandemic should be our goal. This is serious. We can’t just go through the motions and hope for the best.
41 Fairview St.