Add another term to your coronavirus vocabulary: "contact isolation."
The big picture: This would be the equivalent of "break glass in case of emergency" for the U.S.
- The current hope is to use contact tracing to encourage enough voluntary testing and isolation to tamp down the spread.
- A more restrictive system would use it to mandate quarantines for those who test positive. We aren't doing this yet.
Contact isolation is even more restrictive, and it worked to great effect during the first wave in places like Hong Kong and South Korea, Lyman Stone writes for WashPost.
- "Anytime someone tests positive — regardless of symptoms — their close contacts are identified. The person with the positive test result and all of those contacts are then required to move temporarily into a government-run, hygienic, isolated environment — probably in a hotel or similar setting — until they can be ruled out as infectious," he notes.
- "[T]he tracing program would extend to their close contacts, and so on."
Between the lines: The U.S. has made great strides on testing since mid-March, even though we're still not testing enough.
- The U.S. has the capacity to house and feed people ordered into quarantine, but hotel rooms for voluntary isolation in New York City went mostly unused.
The bottom line: If wave two is bad, the public should understand the range of options being tried globally.
Go deeper: Why contact tracing may fall apart