While Democrats insist that the US government should pour hundreds of billions of dollars into hiring 'contact tracers' - in keeping with their "better safe than sorry" logic that has been abused to bully the population into blindly accepting what they're told without any scrutiny - the growing body of research has led some to question the need for contact tracing, since cases of individuals infected by passersby are rare, and the vast majority of new infections involve family members, partners or close friends/coworkers of the infected patient.
That hasn't stopped Democrats from demanding increasingly ludicrous figures - $1 trillion! $100 billion! - to help states finance massive armies of contact tracers. The level of certitude upon which these demands are based simply is surprising, since President Trump's opponents have accused him of being "anti-science" while claiming the mantle of scientific superiority for themselves. But if this crisis - which is unfortunately taking place during a presidential election year - has shown us anything, it's that for both Republicans and Democrats, politics always comes first.
Despite all of this, we understand that since tens of millions of jobs just evaporated across the US, millions of Americans would probably gladly take one of these well-paid government jobs, even if the position isn't permanent, since most of these job postings specify that a college degree isn't a requirement (though teams should ideally be led by experienced 'public health' workers).
For anybody wondering whether they might qualify for the job, ProPublica on Wednesday released a practice quiz for aspiring contact tracers.
Dr. Emily Gurley, an associate scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the instructor of an online course on contact tracing, which is required for all New York contact tracers, described the job as “part disease detective, part social work, part therapist.” The hardest parts of the job, she said, aren’t necessarily tracking down people’s contacts, but rather the heavy conversations when delivering difficult news, such as when a tracer has to tell a patient to isolate at home, but that person is the sole breadwinner for the family.
Gurley’s six-hour course, which is free to the public, covers technical information, such as how the virus transmits, as well as guidance on how to build rapport and communicate effectively. Inspired by her course, here’s a mini quiz to see how well you know the fundamentals of contact tracing.
Curious to learn whether you got what it takes to tattle on a guy with a cough who happened to pass a recently diagnosed patient so that he can be quarantined for 2 weeks (against his will, if necessary)? Then read on.
1. The definition of close contact is, within 48 hours before the patient’s symptoms began:
A. Anyone who lives in the patient’s household or is a co-worker.
B. Anyone who has been within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes.
C. Anyone with whom the patient remembers spending more than five minutes.
2. What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?
A. They’re the same thing. The words are interchangeable.
B. Isolation means you have to stay away from everyone, and quarantine means you can still go out, but you have to monitor your symptoms.
C. Isolation is the term used for confirmed COVID-19 patients, while quarantine is the term used for exposed contacts. In both cases, you need to stay away from other people.
3. You’re on the phone with Amelia, who tested positive for COVID-19. She tells you her symptoms began on June 4. When you follow up on June 12, she says she hasn’t had a fever in four days and most of her symptoms are gone, but she still feels tired. Can her isolation end?
A. Yes, she’s free to leave home.
B. No, her isolation’s not over yet. (Bonus points if you can explain why.)
4. Andy went to a birthday party on May 7 where he was in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 on May 10. A contact tracer calls Andy on May 11. When is it safe for Andy to end quarantine, assuming he does not develop any symptoms?
A. May 21
B. May 24
C. May 25
5. What is the incubation period of the coronavirus?
A. Usually two days, but it could be as long as seven days.
B. Usually five days, but it could be as short as two days or as long as 14 days.
C. Usually 14 days
(Answers: 1. B, 2. C, 3. B, It hasn’t been 10 days since symptoms began, 4. A. Quarantine is defined at 14 days since the last day of exposure, 5. B.)