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Coronavirus US: New York contract tracing gets data from 35%

Contact tracing in New York City delivered disappointing results after the first two weeks of the program showed only 35 per cent of people who were infected with COVID-19 provided information about their close contacts.  

About 3,000 workers hired for the tracing effort contacted 5,347 local residents who were confirmed to have had COVID-19, or were presumed to have been afflicted by the virus. 

Among those, roughly 1,870, or about 35 per cent, provided contact information.

Contact tracing in New York City delivered disappointing results after the first two weeks of the program showed only 35 per cent of people who were infected with COVID-19 provided information about their close contacts. A New York tracing worker is pictured doing outreach

About 3,000 workers hired for the tracing effort contacted 5,347 local residents who were confirmed to have had COVID-19, or were presumed to have been afflicted by the virus. A tracer's computer screen is shown as data is entered about the person contacted

About 3,000 workers hired for the tracing effort contacted 5,347 local residents who were confirmed to have had COVID-19, or were presumed to have been afflicted by the virus. A tracer’s computer screen is shown as data is entered about the person contacted

There was an uptick to 42 per cent during the third week, WCBS-TV reports. The effort began on June 1. 

Contact tracing efforts have begun in cities through out the country and have had varying results.  One expert, Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the School of Public Health at Rutgers University, called the slow start in New York for eliciting contacts ‘very bad. 

‘For each person, you should be in touch with 75 percent of their contacts within a day,’ Halkitis told the Times. 

He blamed poor training and a lack of experience on staffers at the program, which is still in its early stages.

‘This is a skill,’ he said. ‘You need to practice.’  

Dr. Ted Long, head of New York City’s new Test and Trace Corps, defended the program Sunday and said 69 per cent of the people who completed interviews provided contacts. 

‘We think that’s a strong start but we also do want to get that number up,’ Long told The Associated Press.

Long said the 35 per cent figure cited by Halkitis represents a percentage everyone who the tracers reached, and some of those people, including some who have not had COVID-19 symptoms for weeks, don’t have relevant contacts to provide. 

Dr. Ted Long, head of New York City's new Test and Trace Corps, defended the program Sunday and said 69 per cent of the people who completed interviews provided contacts.

Dr. Ted Long, head of New York City’s new Test and Trace Corps, defended the program Sunday and said 69 per cent of the people who completed interviews provided contacts.

The program will be more successful when tracers start going to people’s homes in the next week or two rather than relying on the phone, says Long.

So far there have been more than 208,000 cases in New York City of the coronavirus, which has been blamed for more than 17,000 deaths and almost another 5,000 probably deaths.

Across the country, there have been almost 2.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, which has been blamed for close to 120,000 deaths. 

On May 18, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that having enough tracers – 30 for every 100,000 people – was one of the requirements he was insisting upon before allowing different regions across New York to reopen.  

In New York City, that meant employing 2,520 to undertake the tracing for the reopening, which began its second phase today. 

The city has made huge strides in containing the outbreak since a coronavirus shutdown started in March, with more than 320 new cases reported on Thursday, down from several thousand a day during the peak. 

New York has done well containing the outbreak since a coronavirus shutdown started in March, with more than 320 new cases reported Thursday, down from thousands a day during the peak. A patient is loaded into a New York ambulance by emergency personnel in masks

New York has done well containing the outbreak since a coronavirus shutdown started in March, with more than 320 new cases reported Thursday, down from thousands a day during the peak. A patient is loaded into a New York ambulance by emergency personnel in masks

Officials say the contact tracing effort is crucial to preventing a resurgence as the city enters the next phase of easing coronavirus restrictions, including outdoor dining at restaurants and in-store retail shopping. 

Cuomo confirmed that the city had been on track to start Phase 2 after reporting 15 deaths were attributed to COVID-19 across the state on Saturday. That at the time was the state’s lowest death toll since the early days of the outbreak in March. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he expects as many as 300,000 more people to return to their jobs during Phase 2.

Officials say the contact tracing effort is crucial to preventing a resurgence as the city enters the next phase of easing coronavirus restrictions, including outdoor dining at restaurants and in-store retail shopping. Masked musicians are pictured at Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, on Sunday

Officials say the contact tracing effort is crucial to preventing a resurgence as the city enters the next phase of easing coronavirus restrictions, including outdoor dining at restaurants and in-store retail shopping. Masked musicians are pictured at Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, on Sunday

New York's Phase 2 reopening today includes outdoor dining at restaurants and in-store retail shopping. Spectators wearing masks are seen attending a concert in Brooklyn's Ditmas Park neigborhood this weekend before the official reopening

New York’s Phase 2 reopening today includes outdoor dining at restaurants and in-store retail shopping. Spectators wearing masks are seen attending a concert in Brooklyn’s Ditmas Park neigborhood this weekend before the official reopening 

Before they can start interviewing people, tracers must complete an online curriculum developed by Bloomberg Philanthropies in coordination with the Department of Health. They also must pass an exam.  

NYC hopes to hire 1000 people and bulk out the remainder of the workforce with existing Department of Health staff. 

The goal of the tracers is to make contact with people who have had the deadly flu like virus and to learn who their close contacts are to isolate the source of infection for two weeks. 

It is unclear if any of the people currently testing positive for COVID-19 are being interviewed by the tracers.

The goal of the tracers is to make contact with people who have had the deadly flu like virus and to learn who their close contacts are to isolate the source of infection for two weeks. A South Lake County Health official shows a hypothetical case in a tracer training seminar

The goal of the tracers is to make contact with people who have had the deadly flu like virus and to learn who their close contacts are to isolate the source of infection for two weeks. A South Lake County Health official shows a hypothetical case in a tracer training seminar

Among the job requirements is to have a four-year high school diploma and experience in healthcare.

Candidates are also asked to show ‘a demonstrated commitment to supporting communities who have experienced systemic oppression and bias (e.g. people of color, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, justice involved persons, etc.)’

While they will start by working from home, the jobs may eventually be moved to a call center, the application reads.

When they announced the program at the governor’s daily briefing in early May, Bloomberg said: ‘One of the most important steps to take to re-open the economy as safely as possible is to create a system of contact tracing.

‘When social distancing is relaxed, contact tracing is our best hope for isolating the virus when it appears – and keeping it isolated.’

Cuomo admitted that it would be ‘monumental’ to try to track every person who had come into contact with a known case, but that they would ‘do their best’.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk