New ways to quarantine. Right now, if you think you have coronavirus you’re just instructed to quarantine at home while you wait (and wait …) for the test results to come through. But the virus seems to spread rapidly through families, not everyone can take care of themselves without leaving the house, and we don’t have a good way of knowing when someone ceases to be contagious — so there are lots of ways a self-quarantine can fail.
Under the faster testing regime of semi-normalcy, there may be other quarantine options. Just as hospitals can use beds in empty hotels to handle surges, cities may invite the asymptomatic and mildly sick into “Covid hotels,” where they can be monitored for worsening symptoms and tested for antibodies, provided with food and internet and toilet paper, and even allowed to socialize with their fellow milder cases.
The Chinese version of this collective-quarantine system was harshly enforced; any American system would be more voluntary and haphazard. But it seems like a plausible addition to the “test and trace” approach urged by many epidemiologists: It doesn’t help to track down cases if you don’t remove a larger share of them from circulation, and you won’t remove that larger share unless some of the sick have a place to go besides their home.