Every day brings COVID-19 news—today it’s contact tracing—that reminds me of the challenges my late husband faced in the US streets and alleyways chasing STDs, and later in West Africa and Bangladesh chasing the smallpox virus.

This excerpt from my memoir bears repeating because contact tracing is such a hot-button topic, and many seem not to understand how critical it is to our safety.

“As we pressed north in the African Sahel, my husband leaned forward, searching the horizon. At the last mud-walled village he’d learned that a group of nomads was camped nearer Nigeria’s border with Niger, and he had to find them before they moved on. With no new cases of smallpox reported for several weeks, this was a high-risk period. How many people would get careless, let down their guard? Carl and his teams had to step up their surveillance, search for any case lurking undetected.. . . They had to prevent re-introduction of smallpox, a daunting challenge among a mobile people.”

Bee Bloeser in Vaccines & Bayonets: Fighting Smallpox in Africa amid Tribalism, Terror and the Cold War

Finding contacts. Figuring out where the virus came from and where it will go next is a tough job.

So, if a contact tracer calls, I’ll cooperate. I’ll do it for myself, my friends, my family. And you.

And if I’ve been in the presence of someone who tests positive for COVID-19, I hope THEY will cooperate and that they’ll remember to give a contact tracer my name so I can avoid a bad outcome! What about you?

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Thank you!!