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Organizing, Budgeting, and Implementing Wraparound Services for People in Quarantine and Isolation

Organizing, Budgeting, and Implementing Wraparound Services for People in Quarantine and Isolation

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This policy memo summarizes key arguments in favor of wraparound-supported quarantine and isolation programs. Wraparound-supported quarantine and isolation programs provide individuals with the economic, social, and medical resources they need to successfully remain away from others. Implementation of these support programs will both reduce the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the harmful knock-on effects of quarantine and isolation.

Quarantine and isolation are essential elements of an effective COVID-19 response – preventing onward transmission of the virus. Unfortunately, far too many people are unable to successfully complete their quarantine and isolation period due to unmet economic, social, and medical needs. Programs that connect individuals with all the resources they need to successfully complete their stay-away period can help close this gap but are often viewed as prohibitively expensive and difficult to implement. This memo describes how jurisdictions can integrate supported quarantine and isolation into existing contact tracing programs, discusses the potential costs of a robust program that includes a universal wage replacement stipend, and summarizes ongoing initiatives in New York City and the Navajo Nation. 

Key takeaways:

  • Many individuals cannot quarantine or isolate in the absence of a support structure capable of addressing multitudinous economic, social, and medical needs. 
  • States should allocate a portion of the incoming Federal COVID relief funding for testing and tracing to wraparound supported quarantine and isolation programs. Doing so will not only save lives but also has the potential to reduce overall public costs.
  • New York City and the Navajo Nation were able to bootstrap innovative supported isolation and quarantine programs using a combination of community-based, local, state, and federal resources. Programs like these are making a huge difference and would benefit greatly from increased federal support. 

Led by Dr. Margaret Bourdeaux, Research Director of the Program in Global Public Policy and Social Change at Harvard Medical School, BKC Policy Practice: the memo was co-authored by Digital Pandemic Response staff members Adam Nagy and Alexis Montouris Ciambotti, with editorial and design help from Hilary Ross, Will Marks, and Lydia Rosenberg.

The BKC Policy Practice: Digital Pandemic Response program is generously supported by the Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. 

For further information and to discuss the content of this memo: contact the Program in Global Public Policy at the Department of Global Medicine & Social Change at Harvard Medical School (annmarie_sasdi@hms.harvard.edu).

Event Resources

On February 23, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, along with the National Governors Association, the Harvard Medical School’s Program in Global Public Policy and Social Change, and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, co-hosted a live event featuring medical practitioners operating supported quarantine and isolation programs in New York City and in the Navajo Nation, as well as Dr. Linda Blimes, who has studied the costs of these programs. This policy memo summarizes key lessons from this session.

Watch the recording, listen to the audio, or read the transcript here.

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