In this April 20, 2020 photo, Catherine Hopkins, Director of Community Outreach and School Health at St. Joseph's Hospital, right, performs a test on a patient in a COVID-19 triage tent at St. Joseph's Hospital in Yonkers, N.Y. New York’s plan for taming the coronavirus hinges on taking a time-tested practice to an extraordinary level: hiring an “army” of people to try to trace everyone who might be infected. It's part of a common approach to controlling infectious diseases -- testing, tracing contacts and isolating those infected. But the scope is staggering even for a public health system that used the technique to combat AIDS and tuberculosis.
Contact tracing is a key strategy touted by Pennsylvania health officials as an integral part of stopping, or mitigating, the spread of the coronavirus.
The process of tracking the contacts of an infected person is a disease control measure that is also used by public health officials to prevent the spread of other infectious diseases, like the measles and sexually transmitted diseases. The challenge is in the resources it requires to track accurately.
Many counties in Pennsylvania have moved forward with reopening plans, even without the resources and trained personnel in place to conduct the tracing. The result could be a resurgence of infections.
The Lancaster branch of Church World Service is part of a larger organization and networkof faith-based humanitarian agencies. Their role in the community is to assist refugees, immigrants, and asylum-seekers who are seeking safety and new lives in the United States.