With states beginning to make progress in slowing the number and rate of coronavirus infections, Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with New York State governor Andrew M. Cuomo, has announced a $10.5 million commitment in support of a COVID-19 contact tracing program.
To be conducted in coordination with officials in downstate New York as well as New Jersey and Connecticut, the program will identify people who may have been in contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 starting a few days before their symptoms appeared; reach out to everyone those individuals have been in contact with to alert them to the possibility they have been infected; refer those contacts to medical providers; and ask those who are asymptomatic to stay home for fourteen days to make sure they don't spread the virus to others. Large-scale contact tracing is considered critical to safely and responsibly reopening communities and at the same time ensuring the public health.
As part of the effort, the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University will build an online curriculum and training program for contact tracers, while the New York State Department of Health will work with Bloomberg Philanthropies to help identify and recruit contact tracer candidates for the program, including department staff, investigators from state agencies, tracers from downstate counties, and State University of New York and City University of New York medical students. Bloomberg Philanthropies also will work with the state to establish an expert panel to review the work of the program and develop a replicable model for use by other states and will provide organizational and technical support for the program, with Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, providing operational and technical advice to New York State Health Department staff.
"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," said Cuomo. "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."
(Image credit: Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University)