Contact tracing for COVID-19 will be the most complex health investigation ever
To halt the spread of the deadly virus, health experts say states need to hire contact tracers to quickly hunt down everyone who’s been exposed.
On August 3, 1900, a woman who sold fish along the River Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland, started vomiting and couldn't stop. Within days, she and a granddaughter who shared her tenement were dead. Soon, health officials would confirm their worst fears: “Mrs. B” had contracted Bubonic plague—the first outbreak in the United Kingdom in centuries.
Authorities moved quickly. They reached out to anyone who’d had contact with the deceased. They tracked down a sick child most likely infected by a babysitter who’d attended the grandmother’s wake. They traced a factory worker’s illness to colleagues who’d visited the victims’ family. Health officials isolated at least a hundred people. They disinfected sheets and fumigated apartments. By the time they contained