More than a dozen leading health experts and political leaders on Monday called on Congress to include a new $46.5 billion plan on contact tracing and isolation methods in the next federal stimulus package as the U.S. prepares to move into the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan calls to expand the “contact tracing” workforce by 180,000 people until a vaccine emerges, provide for voluntary self-isolation for up to two weeks at unused hotels and motels, and develop new contact tracing referral protocols for primary care doctors.
Contact tracing is a labor-intensive process that tracks people who have tested positive for the coronavirus to try to figure out who they might have infected.
The push is being spearheaded by Andy Slavitt, a former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under President Trump.
The plan includes a $50-per-day stipend for people who voluntarily self-isolate for 14 days, at an estimated cost of $30 billion over 18 months.
“It’s important that people not reinfect their family members, particularly if they’re out in the world,” Mr. Slavitt told NPR. “Some people just can’t do that safely.”