Joe Biden’s plan to implement wide-scale contact tracing by hiring about 100,000 health workers faces several steep challenges regarding the scale and cost, according to experts.
“Contact tracing works best and is most effective in settings where there isn’t the level of rampant transmission that there is now,” Dr. Nicole Lurie, an adviser to the Biden campaign and the former assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told Politico. “There have to be measures to tamp down the level of the virus before it can be effective.”
The Biden public health corps plan is estimated to cost about $3.6 billion and would face a Congress that has stalled on coronavirus relief for weeks. Still, experts on infectious disease note that the contract tracing workforce already in place is far smaller than it should be, and that it has suffered from repeated budget cuts over the years. Several public health leaders have called on Biden to make the increases to the public health corps funding permanent.
“Biden has talked about ‘building back better’ and that needs to be true for public health as well,” said David Harvey, who heads the National Coalition of STD Directors. “We want them to remember that we’re in this for the long haul.”
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