Contact Tracing 101: How It Works and What to Expect

Technology may play a role, but human contact tracers will likely be at the heart of the process

Photo: Catherine Lai/Getty Images

“This is going to be what I would regard as a major experiment in modern public health for our country.”

If they’re designed with close attention to make public health work more efficiently rather than change how it works, tech-driven efforts could add great value to public health work during outbreaks, according to Paul Jarris, MD. Jarris is the chief medical advisor of Mitre, a nonprofit, federally funded research and development organization that has developed Sara Alert, an open-source tool for monitoring people at risk for Covid-19. In a YouTube presentation about the tool, Jarris says digital contact tracing’s advantage is that it allows public health to monitor people on “exception basis” — meaning that the need for human follow-up with an exposed person would be the exception in the process, not the rule.

Infectious disease doctor | Epidemiologist | Journalist | Health disparities, HIV/STDs, LGBTQ care, et al. |

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