By Joshua Huff, sports editor
ATLANTA – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told NPR on Thursday that the organization has already begun working on a plan to slowly guide the country back to normalcy.
That plan, according to CDC Director Robert Redfield, will rely on increased testing and vigorous contact tracing of those who have tested positive for the virus. Contract tracing involves investigating the contacts of people who test positive. Those contacts are then monitored or quarantined if any of them test positive. That process is repeated for each and every contact until the “chain of transmission is halted.”
The first step, Redfield said, is that the agency will have to significantly increase the amount of fieldworkers needed to trace the path of the virus for each individual who tests positive. Local and state health departments do not have the manpower to field a large enough workforce, so Redfield said that the federal government will need to step in; however, it will be up to the local and state governments to determine how to conduct contract tracing with the CDC on hand offer assistance.
“We are going to need a substantial expansion of public health fieldworkers,” Redfield told NPR. “This, along with ample testing, is what will be needed “to make sure that when we open up, we open up for good.”
Expanded testing with rapid results will also be crucial to limit the potential threat of continued virus transfer.
“It is going to be critical,” Redfield told NPR “We can’t afford to have multiple community outbreaks that can spiral up into sustained community transmission — so it is going to be very aggressive, what I call ‘block and tackle,’ ‘block and tackle.’ ”
At the moment, Redfield believes that the virus is beginning to peak in the nation and expects to see a decline in cases in the coming weeks.
“I think we’ve seen an enormous benefit of the social distancing guidelines, and this is really a credit to the American people,” he told NPR.
Yet, Redfield warns that social distancing measures need to be maintained until a proven vaccine is made available and the best way to currently combat the virus is to fight and contain outbreaks with a large enough force of healthcare workers on the ground.