To be done effectively, it requires people with the training, supervision, and access to social and medical support for patients and contacts.
Given the magnitude of COVID-19 cases and plans to eventually relax mitigation efforts such as stay at home orders and social distancing, communities need a large number of trained contact tracers. These contact tracers need to quickly locate and talk with the patients, assist in arranging for patients to isolate themselves, and work with patients to identify people with whom the patients have been in close contact so the contact tracer can locate them. The actual number of staff needed is large and varies depending on a number of factors including but not limited to:
Identifying contacts and ensuring they do not interact with others is critical to protect communities from further spread. If communities are unable to effectively isolate patients and ensure contacts can separate themselves from others, rapid community spread of COVID-19 is likely to increase to the point that strict mitigation strategies will again be needed to contain the virus.
Contact investigation of patients with COVID-19 potentially exposed at work and patients in health care facilities, congregate living settings or housing with many people is complex. Appropriate engagement with infection control and occupational health programs is recommended. Priority settings include: