This strategy would revolve around the distribution of rapid, saliva-based tests that can be administered at home, so that those who are contagious can be quickly identified and isolated. This would also eliminate the need for contact tracing, which has become a nearly impossible task given the number of those potentially exposed in the US today.
During this time, millions, if not billions, of viral particles swarm the airways, escaping into the air whenever these infected individuals cough, sneeze, or even talk loudly. This short period is critical for testing and isolation. Miss that window and people will likely pass the contagion to others.
Changes in how viral samples are collected would also make testing more accessible. Most tests require trained health professionals to take samples using nasopharyngeal swabs — long swabs that can reach past the nostrils to the upper part of the throat — before government-approved laboratories can analyze the results.
Assisted isolation for people who test positive, along with their family members if appropriate, is the second arm of the strategy. The goal is to make it economically and physically possible for all those who test positive to remain in isolation for 10 days. Assisted isolation would require financial and social support to assure that food, medical supplies, and shelter are provided as necessary.
The home test-assisted isolation strategy will not end the epidemic, but it will bring it under control. New cases, when and if they arise, can then be contained locally. With this strategy, we would be able to get back to work and school safely, without fear of igniting a second or third wave of infection. This strategy would also give us the time we need to develop safe and effective vaccines and drugs to prevent new infections and save the lives of those few who do fall ill.