New York state is launching a COVID-19 contact tracing program in coordination with New Jersey and Connecticut and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Michael Bloomberg announced Wednesday.
Contact tracing involves testing to confirm if someone has COVID-19, interviewing the person to identify anyone they have been in contact with and reaching out to their contacts to inform them of their infection risk. Contact tracers also refer contacts to medical providers and direct those who are not sick to isolate for 14 days to ensure they do not spread COVID-19 to others.
The New York State Department of Health and Bloomberg Philanthropies will work together to recruit candidates for contact tracing. Candidates will include staff from the Department of Health, investigators from different state agencies, tracers from downstate counties and medical students at SUNY and CUNY. The Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University is providing an online curriculum and training program for contact tracers. An expert panel will also be created to review the program's work and create a model for other states to use when implementing contact tracing.
"One of the most critical pieces of getting to a new normal is to ramp up testing, but states have a second big task — to put together an army of people to trace each person who tested positive, find out who they contacted and then isolate those people," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "This partnership with Mike Bloomberg to create an unprecedented, nation-leading contact tracing program will do just that and serve as a model for the rest of the nation."