Further data and sequencing is required to conclude whether mixing between the counties increased after the Stay at Home order was overturned by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in May, according to the study. Still, Friedrich and O’Connor said sequencing data can promote improved public health measures, and called for more coordinated, nationwide incentives to keep people home.
“The measures that are going to have to be taken are a lot more draconian than anything that we’ve seen since March or April,” O’Connor said. “But those draconian measures need to be matched with some compassion and investment in making it so that staying at home and following those orders is reasonable. And that simply hasn’t happened.”
With new funding from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the labs plan to work with other universities and health departments to better understand spread into and within Wisconsin, especially the role of college campuses. Friedrich said sequencing can help examine whether and how students amplify community spread, beyond simply asking people, “Were you at that party? Do you work in this nursing home?”
“If you have a large fire happening, it’s not going to be contained to that one place, but it’s going to throw off additional spark,” Friedrich said. “These genetic signatures of particular viruses lend themselves really well to helping answer this question in ways that traditional epidemiology (can’t).”