Self-isolation is essential to containing the pandemic, but is not receiving sufficient federal support


Washington (June 24, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), joined by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), today called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the White House Coronavirus Task Force to provide guidance and assistance to states and local communities in supporting voluntary self-isolation and quarantine efforts. Patients diagnosed with coronavirus are instructed to self-isolate, but the vast majority of Americans do not have the appropriate space, resources, or support to self-isolate and protect their communities and family from spread of the disease. The Senators call for government policies and support for (1) voluntary self-isolation facilities, (2) expanded paid sick leave and income support for voluntary self-isolation, and (3) assistance with food, hygiene, and other necessary supplies.


The Senators also note the importance of providing these policies and supports regardless of immigration status and note that government programs must take steps to build trust with underserved communities.


“Even if the federal government succeeds in greatly expanding testing capacity ? something that is long overdue ? and building support for an army of contact tracers, the full public health impact of these steps will not be realized if individuals with COVID-19, and those exposed to them, cannot limit their contacts with others,” write the Senators in their letter. “The federal government must also ensure that people who most need additional resources to effectively self-isolate receive them, including immigrants, people of color, individuals with disabilities, individuals experiencing homelessness, and individuals at high risk of complications from the novel coronavirus.”


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


Partners in Health, a global non-profit health organization based in Boston that is leading efforts in Massachusetts for contract tracing and supported isolation, shared that they have received over 7,000 requests for social assistance since the inception of the contact tracing project, representing nearly six percent of cases in Massachusetts. Need for food was the most common social support need, along with utilities assistance, threat of eviction, and need for personal protective equipment.


“We know that health is a human right we are all entitled to, irrespective of our zip code,” said Ashley Damewood, Director of Policy and Partnership for Partners in Health. “COVID-19 has revealed the historical and ongoing legacy of structural violence and inequality. Part of treating COVID-19, is treating the social determinants of health. Our commitment is to accompany patients on their journey to health and wellness and link them to available social supports. Where they don’t exist, we need to use data and patient stories to advocate for systems change.”