Enlarge /. This image, taken on April 5, 2019, shows nurses waiting for patients at the Rockland County Health Department in Haverstraw, New York, for a measles outbreak.
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Test, isolate, track, quarantine: these are the basic public health measures that have been shown to be effective in eradicating an infectious disease before it flares to the point where there is only the possibility of whole To burden populations with draconian barriers.
The World Health Organization and public health experts have reiterated and reiterated the strategy since the COVID 19 pandemic broke out in January. And health officials followed the advice in many places, quickly testing those at risk, isolating the infected, persecuted people with whom patients were in contact, and quarantining all exposed people. It is a strategy that requires leadership and resources, but also public cooperation and the commitment of everyone to do their part to defeat a common viral enemy for the common good. The strategy works with all of this. The locations that followed the advice and largely stood together – such as Hong Kong and South Korea – were among the locations that were most successful in containing the devastating new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The United States has not followed the advice since then, and the virus has spread and triggered lockdowns and is now locked again. So far, the United States has registered over 2.7 million cases and more than 128,000 deaths – and that counts. The country has more than 25 percent of cases worldwide, while only around 4 percent of the world's population are affected. Nevertheless, the lesson has not yet started.
In New York, public health officials are trying to convince some residents to work with contact tracers as a new cluster threatens to flare up. The Empire State was once the epicenter of the country's still roaring pandemic, but its outbreak has since subsided. New York is now at a point where vigilant testing, isolation, tracing, and quarantine contacts can wipe out the glowing embers – but only if people stick to them.
Do not answer the call
On Wednesday, officials in Rockland County, north of New York City, reported a number of cases related to a youngest group of up to 100 people, mostly in their early 20s. At the time of the party, the host was infected and had symptoms, but still held the party.
So far, at least eight participants have tested positive for the virus. However, many party goers have refused to work with public health officials to track the potential spread and notify others who may be infected and who could spread the disease.
"We don't get the necessary collaboration if we contact those who are positive for COVID-19 or who have attended some of these gatherings," said Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, health commissioner from Rockland County, at a press conference on Wednesday.
My staff has been told that a person does not want or need to speak to my disease investigators. You hang up. They refuse to attend the party, although we found their name from another party participant or parent who provided the information to us. Many do not answer their cell phones and do not call back. Sometimes parents answer for their grown-up children and promise that they were always at home when they weren't.
That has to stop.
In response, Ruppert announced that the county would issue subpoenas to anyone who refused to cooperate in contact tracking. So far, the district has processed eight summonses. In addition, those who fail to do so will be fined around US $ 2,000 a day for non-compliance with the law.
Ruppert continued that exposed young people could continue to transmit the virus to vulnerable people in the community, including older relatives, people with underlying health conditions, and young children who are at risk of serious inflammatory disease. And although young adults are at a relatively lower risk of serious consequences than other groups, they too could become seriously ill.
"Perhaps you want to be invincible," said Ruppert. "But you are not. None of us are against this terrible disease."
Ed Day, Rockland County's executive, added at the press conference that the party participants had no problem attending. Officials just want information to track the virus and do what they need to do to get it.
"We are dead serious," said Day. "I will not allow our county health to be compromised due to ignorance, stupidity, tenacity or anything else."
Contact tracking in general was a struggle in the United States. Several cities and states have reported difficulties in contacting people and persuading them to find the virus. However, Ruppert and Day found that the subpoena issue worked when Rockland County faced a similar problem during an explosive measles outbreak in 2019. "I expect the same now," said Ruppert.
Ruppert and Day also noted that district officials had learned that additional parties were planned for July 4, including those who were at the party on which COVID-19 was being broadcast. To prevent this, the county will strictly enforce the remaining social detachment measures and the isolation and quarantine arrangements required for infected or exposed people, Day said.
For the people who were at the previous party: "We'll ask them nicely now," said Day, "they'll get summons later."