New Yorks Contact Tracers Are Still Facing Challenges – Gothamist

” What goes hand-in-hand with contact tracing is gaining epidemic intelligence,” he said. And if contact tracing is reaching out to every single new diagnosis, should not we be finding out something about their likely mode of acquisition? Outdoors New York City, individual counties run their own contact tracing programs, collaborated by the state Health Department. Numerous counties have complained about “heavy handed” guidance from Albany, according to one veteran observer, and are criticizing a contact tracing software program the state acquired, called CommCare. Some have said they decline to utilize it and threatened to completely go their own way.

But getting people to get the phone has been simply one of a number of challenges facing the city and state contact tracing programs. Hiring and training individuals, getting the innovation to work, and getting various firms to exchange info efficiently has actually been hard.
Leaders of both programs state they had to ramp up their systems rapidly and have needed to fix problems as they emerged, however theyre currently making progress.
” We stood in a matter of a few weeks, an organization with thousands of people, from scratch– the I.T. facilities, the management infrastructure, the training facilities,” stated Dr. Ted Long, a doctor and administrator at the Health and Hospitals Corporation who is running the citys Testing and Tracing Corps. “We didnt wish to lose even one minute to get this up and running for New York City.”
However some professionals state the citys program, which got underway at the start of June, ought to have started much previously. One veteran epidemiologist for the city faults the Health Department for refraining from doing contact tracing at the peak of the break out.
” Yes, the numbers were frustrating, and, yes, they would only have reached a fraction of individuals contaminated, but that still might have offered helpful information that potentially might have slowed down transmission,” the insider said, withholding their name to speak candidly about debates within the Health Department and de Blasio administration.
” We should have been a lot further along with this lots of, many weeks back,” stated Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of Columbia Universitys National Center for Disaster Preparedness. “Like with screening, we werent prepared– and were still not prepared to do either of those jobs adequately, to ensure that individuals are evaluated and to have a robust, reliable contact tracing system.”
Lots of public health observers– consisting of the chairs of the state Assembly and Senate health committees– have criticized Mayor de Blasio for turning over screening and tracing efforts to the general public hospital system from the city Health Department, which works closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is well related to worldwide for its ability to include break outs. Dr. Denis Nash, who has actually worked for both firms and is now a teacher of public health at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health, stated there has actually been a “detach between what we hear and what I think of as the larger public health goals of the contact tracing program.”
Nash said the city program, in its statements, is highlighting how numerous individuals its reached, how many secondary contacts tracers have spoken with, and other figures, but is not speaking about patterns that can help notify both decision-makers and typical citizens.

” What goes hand-in-hand with contact tracing is acquiring epidemic intelligence,” he stated. “Whos actually getting COVID now? And if contact tracing is connecting to each and every single brand-new diagnosis, shouldnt we be learning something about their likely mode of acquisition? And shouldnt we be informing everybody about that every couple of days, so that we can all do our part in attempting to close the gaps in avoidance?”
One newly-hired contact tracer mentioned problems with training and management.
” Theres a great deal of conflicting info,” a female who recognized herself as Dee told Dr. Long on the Brian Lehrer Show on Thursday. “Theres our firm [Health and Hospitals], however then theres the contractor, and we have several supervisors … and our training schedules are even a bit tough and short to comprehend.”
Long replied that he was eager to hear more from her.
” Were fully committed to that,” he stated. “I believe theres proof of how things have improved, through your tough work, between the first 2 weeks and recently, has already been truly, truly encouraging.”
Outdoors New York City, private counties run their own contact tracing programs, collaborated by the state Health Department. A number of counties have grumbled about “heavy handed” guidance from Albany, according to one veteran observer, and are slamming a contact tracing software application the state procured, called CommCare. Some have said they refuse to utilize it and threatened to entirely go their own way.
” Local health departments have actually been accountable for contact tracing for decades and are great at what they do,” said Sarah Ravenhall, executive director of the New York State Association of County Health Officials. “So it is natural that some local health departments wish to use a system that they think is best fit for contact tracing in their communities.”
Ravenhall said counties share the very same objectives with the state of making sure “that the work is done regularly, and the data is typically standardized.”
Larry Schwartz, Governor Andrew Cuomos point person on contact tracing, said he has not heard problems which any software application or other issues are merely part of assembling a brand-new statewide program so quickly.
” I believe were moving at the speed of light,” Schwartz stated. “Like any brand-new program, like any new innovation, theres constantly a couple of glitches and issues … much of them have been dealt with, and the staying couple of are being beta-tested with options.”
Schwartz stated the counties will require to fall in line or danger losing money to assist spend for their expanded contact tracing responsibilities.
” In order to be qualified to get federal financing, the federal government is needing an unified security system to be able to keep an eye on and track the success of the program,” Schwartz stated, stating a current conference call with county leaders. “I had zero grievances and absolutely no anybody informing me that theyre not going to get involved.”

Were helping every New Yorker who evaluates positive for COVID-19 stay healthy and safe. If you evaluate positive, the Test and Trace Corps will call you– get the phone!
Theyll get you a hotel space if you require one, and anything else you may need. pic.twitter.com/u5AGK0ZcGP— NYC Mayors Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) June 5, 2020

Address your freakin phone.
Thats the message contact tracers are trying to get across individuals theyre calling who have actually checked favorable for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. One civil service statement tweeted out by the state Health Department shows two iphones side by side, one with an incoming call from “Your Ex” and another from “NYS Contact Tracing”– with instructions above one “Dont Pick Up” and above the other, “Please Pick Up.”
Near 100 percent of those in New York City who tested favorable and shared a precise number upon consumption have been choosing up the phone. And people appear to be getting used to sharing information of those they may have exposed: of those who complete interviews, about three-fourths provided tracers with details for their secondary contacts.