Why contact-tracing apps in the US are not considered slow-coded-19

States such as Massachusetts and New Jersey have limited their app plans or left them to focus on the bigger picture. “States are struggling for a public health response in general, including plain vanilla contact tracing,” says Margaret Bordeaux, a researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School. Inadequate testing in some areas has also reduced traditional contact tracing. States that have launched large-scale contact-tracing efforts have faced problems in improving and managing these efforts. Researchers at George Washington University estimate that many states have underutilized contacts. According to the researchers, California, more than 30,000 contact trailers are needed to keep up with the spread of the virus. An NPR poll last month found the state’s numbers were less than one-third.

Contract trayers report difficulties for people to answer questions or quarantine and seek trial advice, especially when they cannot offer resources such as childcare to help. Government distrust, particularly between immigrants and low-income residents, has been complicated by online misinformation about contact tracing.

“It becomes a fundamental point where some people have started to deviate from testing, trace, isolation programs to control the virus,” says Justin Lesler, a professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University who Studies the effectiveness of contact-tracing. program. Instead of giving that disillusionment, he recommends investing more to make the programs effective. “The challenges here are rapid follow-up, trust, and also quarantine and isolation procedures to help protect others in their home.”

Digital contact tracing can increase those efforts, he says, making it easier to reach more people quickly, especially when contact with an infected person may not be known – like strangers at the store, or in a different department fellow worker. But if there is little support and concerns about digital tracking, attempts to prevent vulnerable groups from adopting applications could widen the gap. “Public confidence is everything during a health crisis, so anything that might put it at risk – especially if the benefit is not clear – has not been seen as worth the effort,” Bordeaux says.

Seek coordination

Initially, it was clear that the US needed a more national response. “We are not Canada. There is a national health care system and a national contact-tracing app,” says Scott Baker, executive director of the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL). “It would have been much easier if there was a national view, but not how public health works in the United States.”

In May, a group of officials, including state health officials and technologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, formed a working group to tackle the problem. One obvious issue was allowing the state’s app to talk to each other, Baker says, who later joined the discussions. Although Google and Apple offered common technology for the exchange of keys over Bluetooth, states initially built their own servers to send notifications. This created a problem for interstate tourists and commuters, who would be using apps tilted to different systems. (Also, having a separate server in each state was not very good for security.) So APHL, which often acts as a conduit for public health data between local and federal agencies, is the one to talk to each. Installs a common server for the state’s app. other.

A major technical issue for the states was deciding what they needed in the contact-tracing app and finding someone to build it. Apple and Google’s announcement potentially relieves this burden situation. Instead, they will be able to provide some basic information they want to include in apps, as well as their desired statewide branding, and Apple and Google will generate offerings from a template.

It is still unclear whether this new app named Exposure Notification Express will prove more successful in slowing the spread of the disease. A big issue: connecting with local health officials, who often oversee traditional contact tracing. “Real friction is the way contact tracing occurs,” says Brookins, developer of the Care 19 app in North Dakota and Wyoming. “It’s difficult, odd areas are difficult.”


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