States see contact tracing with cellphones as key to reopening economies
Governors and mayors trying to reopen their economies after nearly eight weeks of lockdown see “contact tracing” done with new technologies as a key to containing the spread of COVID-19.
Contact tracing has traditionally meant methodical, shoe-leather detective work. Tracers and epidemiologists interview people with infectious diseases to find out who they had contact with in the recent past and get those people to quarantine and to report who they in turn had contact with. Eventually tracers can track who actually brought a virus into a community and who might also be infected.
But today, the hope is that the shoe-leather work could be supplemented and made more accurate by the use of mobile phone apps.
A few states already have deployed GPS location technology to assist in such tracking while an alternate technology using Bluetooth signals is still in development.