Some infected residents are hindering efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.
It is not a particularly difficult concept. The reopening of the economy and a return to "normal" life depends on keeping new COVID-19 cases in check.
If the disease spreads unabated, medical systems will be overrun. People will die unnecessarily, and to restore safety, we might all have to shelter at home again.
What do we gain by ignoring basic steps that public health experts say will help stop the spread?
They have long said the key to containing the virus is an old method of fighting infections: contact tracing. That is, tracking down those an infected person might have been in contact with and letting them know that they might have been exposed to illness and need to take steps to ensure their safety and others’.
"It’s important to do contact tracing because we know people can spread this disease in the two days before they develop noticeable symptoms," Charlotte Berringer, R.N., Erie County Health Department’s director of community health services, told reporter David Bruce. "They can also spread it if they are asymptomatic."
Erie County, fortunate to have its own health department, has hired additional contact tracers who are now working to track down and control COVID-19 cases, which as of Monday tallied 718 total.
We’d hope and expect the community to rally behind this effort. Instead, as Bruce detailed, health department workers say they face obstruction from residents who refuse to provide information about whom they have had contact with or comply with safety recommendations, such as quarantining themselves for 14 days.
It is surely upsetting to be diagnosed with COVID-19. But likely at play here is not fear, but the politics have infected this nation’s chaotic, ineffective response to the crisis and hamstrung our ability to overcome it.
Social media disinformation campaigns contribute to the virulent divide. Consider the Associate Press’ most recent fact-check of misinformation. It addressed multiple bogus COVID-19 claims being circulated, including one that said wearing a face mask for extended periods can cause lung disease. It would be laughable if so many people did not believe this stuff.
The blame falls on every leader, from the president on down, who seeks to leverage division, rather than marshal facts and unite the nation in a common, urgent, lifesaving effort to stop the coronavirus.Thanks to them, we fight not just the disease, but a fog of disinformation and acrimony.
In recent days, volunteers from United Clergy of Erie went door-to-door to offer resources and information to Erie’s hard-hit east side. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey came together to endorse wearing masks. UPMC medical experts in a news conference stated what should be obvious, masks are not political, they are protection.
We credit these efforts and call for more.
— Erie Times-News