Virtual Learning Hour Special Series: COVID-19 and the Case for Contact Tracing

June 19, 2020


  • Donald M. Berwick, MD, MPP, FRCP, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)
  • Derek Feeley, President and CEO, IHI
  • Shreya Kangovi, MD, Founding Executive Director, Penn Center for Community Health Workers; Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
  • John Welch, Director of Partnerships and Operations, Partners In Health MA COVID Response; Executive Director, Massachusetts Community Tracing Collaborative
  • Moderated by: Madge Kaplan, Director of Communications, IHI

Contact tracing, the ability to monitor infectious disease outbreaks and isolate individual carriers and those they’ve encountered to prevent further spread, is common practice in the world of global public health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 40 states in the US have implemented case identification and contact tracing programs, which are relatively new in the US, especially at this scale.

As communities across the US continue to re-open, it's even more crucial to isolate COVID-19 positive individuals and their contacts in order to contain​ sudden outbreaks and prevent new spikes in community spread. However, it’s uncertain whether contact tracing will be as effective in the US as it’s been in other countries, especially with highly variable and insufficient resources, workforce, and funding available. What will it take to ensure contact tracing is effective in the US?

This Virtual Learning Hour focuses on:

  • Key components of the Partners I​n Health contact tracing model, which is in wide use nationally
  • The role of community health workers, social workers, and social supports
  • Long-term financing​
  • The importance of health care system engagement and collaboration with public health departments​

Listeners also have the opportunity to share their questions, struggles, and bright spots they are seeing in this unprecedented time.

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