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NY Governor and Mike Bloomberg Announce COVID-19 Contact Tracing Program

Amid Ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo and Mayor Mike Bloomberg Launch Nation-Leading Covid-19 Contact Tracing Program to Control Infection Rate 

New York’s Contact Tracing Program Will Be Done in Coordination with Downstate Region as well as New Jersey and Connecticut

Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University to Build Online Curriculum and Training Program for Contact Tracers

NYS DOH Will Work with Bloomberg Philanthropies Team to Identify and Recruit Contact Tracer Candidates, Including DOH Staff, Investigators from State Agencies, Hundreds of Downstate Tracers and SUNY and CUNY Students in Medical Fields

Partnership with Vital Strategies’ Resolve to Save Lives to Provide Operational and Technical Advising

Official Press Release issued by the Office of the Governor of New York State

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Mike Bloomberg today announced a new nation-leading COVID-19 contact tracing program to control the infection rate of the disease. Mike Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies have committed organizational support and technical assistance to help build and execute this new program. The contact tracing program will be done in coordination with the downstate region as well as New Jersey and Connecticut and will serve as an important resource to gather best practices and as a model that can be replicated across the nation. There has never been a contact tracing program implemented at this scale either in New York or anywhere in the United States. The program will launch immediately.

As part of this effort, The Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University will build an online curriculum and training program for contact tracers. The New York State Department of Health will work with Bloomberg Philanthropies to help identify and recruit contact tracer candidates for the training program, including staff from the State Department of Health, investigators from various state agencies, hundreds of tracers from downstate counties and SUNY and CUNY students in medical fields. Bloomberg Philanthropies will also work with New York State to establish an expert panel to review the work of the program, and create a best in class model that other states can use for contact tracing.

The effort includes a partnership with Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, to provide operational and technical advising to New York State Health Department staff. They will assist in the development of call center protocols and digital solutions to rapidly catalyze progress and expedite workflow; and determine best ways to increase community engagement and understanding of the role of contact tracing as a public health tool.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed $10.5 million, along with organizational support and technical assistance, to help build and execute this new program.

“The numbers indicate we are past the apex of this pandemic, and while we start our work to re-open our economy we must ensure we are doing it in a way that does no harm and does not undo all of the work and sacrifice it has taken to get here,” Governor Cuomo said. “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. 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.”

“We’re all eager to begin loosening restrictions on our daily lives and our economy. But in order to do that as safely as possible, we first have to put in place systems to identify people who may have been exposed to the virus and support them as they isolate,” said Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg LP, three-term mayor of New York City. “I’m honored to partner with Governor Cuomo and New York State to help do that, by creating a new contact tracing program on a widespread scale. Coupled with far more testing, it will help us drive the virus into a corner — saving lives and allowing more people to begin getting back to work.”

As the state continues its work to flatten the curve, large-scale contact tracing is critical to safely and responsibly reopening communities while preserving the public health. Contact tracing helps prevent the spread of a virus by using testing to confirm if someone has COVID-19, interviewing that person to identify people they may have been in contact with during their illness and during the few days before symptoms began, reaching out to their contacts to alert them to their risk of infection and then referring contacts to medical providers and asking non-ill people to stay home for 14 days to be sure they don’t spread COVID-19 to others.

Contact tracing is a proven public health tool which can profoundly help “box in” the virus. Several countries, such as Germany, Singapore and South Korea, have used contact tracing effectively amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, those countries have been able to re-open for business quicker and have experienced fewer deaths and lower rates of infection.

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