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Contact tracing is a process of finding all the people who came in close contact with the person who tested positive for having the Covid-19 virus because they, too, might be infected. It is a crucial step to reduce the further spread of the virus. It has been the method used by epidemiologists for decades to address illnesses and diseases, such as SARS and Ebola.
Countries like South Korea and Germany have made significant efforts to suppress the spread of the virus, cases have significantly decreased. They have “created an emergency response committee that quickly developed wide-scale virus testing, followed by an extensive scaling up of the nation’s network of contact tracers.”
On the other hand, despite hitting high records of cases in mid-July, the U.S. still lags efforts in contact tracing. According to the chief of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), Adriane Casalotti, U.S. does not have a national strategy for contact tracing.
Funding appears to be a problem. As stated in a news report, the “White House moved to block $25 billion for tracing and testing in the latest pandemic relief bill being considered by Congress.” Despite this fact, the country still needs methods to combat Covid-19.
Social network tracing is a strategy that leaders can implement to lessen misinformation.
“[Social network tracing is] identifying individuals or groups who play central roles in dictating Covid-19 information and behaviors in a community.”Dr. Joshua Liao, internal medicine physician at the University of Washington
According to behavioral science, “humans are social beings that can be influenced by others,” particularly in uncertain situations. When uncertainty arises, people depend on their decisions on what others do. Hence, business leaders, public officials, and those in authority can use their social influence to change COVID-related behaviors.
Government authorities can use Facebook or Twitter to build network maps for Covid-19 social network tracing purposes. In identifying interpersonal communications, defining communities, and describing each individual’s importance, they can post or tweet COVID-related information.
Additionally, they can employ groups within the Covid-19 social network to fight against misinformation and risky behaviors. These “central people” could be “local business, trade, school, or civic groups” that maintain credibility and strong relationships with the community.
Apple and Google made significant efforts to help authority figures in combating Coronavirus diseases. They have built tracking systems for iOS and Android operating systems, enabling the phone to give a notification to users if they came in close contact with an infected person.
Despite these efforts, social network tracing should still be accompanied by extensive public health measures to entirely fight the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The government and public officials need to prioritize public health and safety, above all.