Americans need to start thinking about how to control the pandemic under the assumption that people are not necessarily going to listen. Testing is a key component of this. What if, for Thanksgiving, in addition to telling people not to see their families, we also emphasized getting a test before and after traveling and isolating until results were available?
We should still ask people to keep gatherings small, and reinforce the recommendation to avoid traveling, but we need to recognize that not everyone will listen. Testing is a useful backup.
Our testing capacity makes this strategy difficult in many places. But in some states, testing on either end of travel is possible. Public health officials may worry that testing should be presented only as a last resort, out of fear that it will encourage people to travel and let their guard down. But the fact is, their guard is already down.
This realization puts renewed focus on the need for a better testing system.