POLICY BRIEFING – WEEK IN REVIEW
Amidst a renewed surge of covid-19 cases, contact tracer programs are finding themselves overwhelmed and undermanned. One immense challenge the efforts face are a lack of trust and compliance on the part of infected patients. In some cases, individuals who test positive wait multiple days before responding to calls from their local health department, while others believe that they and their contacts are low risk, negating the need for tracing in the first place. Amidst this, a new wave of asymptomatic infections in younger patients who tend to avoid care, further challenges and stretches the capabilities of contact tracing programs. Despite the increased need, many parts of the country do not have adequate funding to supplement their existing tracer force, with some enlisting the National Guard to pick up the slack. In other countries, contact tracers were recruited and trained well in advance. Conversely, testing capabilities continue to increase, as the Department of Health and Human Services has announced a partnership with a group of private retailers. In association with CVS Health, Rite Aid, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Kroger and Walmart, DHS will increase ambulatory testing capabilities by over six hundred sites nationally. Various. 2 July 2020.
In late May, the Pentagon issued travel restrictions that applied to all employees of the Department of Defense in an attempt to limit spread of the coronavirus, with relaxation possible once the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and White House guidelines had been met. This week, the Pentagon has updated that status, effectively removing the travel ban in all states except Michigan, Florida, and California, due to their recent uptick in cases. Additionally, normal movement was granted for many service members stationed internationally. What remains to be seen is how the US Navy will respond to this decision, having recently implemented significant movement restrictions on all North American forces. Various. 3 July 2020.