New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a Thursday, April 30th press conference that the state will hire thousands of contact tracers (who notify people who have been exposed to COVID-19) as part of the system being developed to help the state return to everyday life, as coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline.
“Tracing is not hard on an individual basis — the problem is the massive scale and with an operation that has never existed before,” Governor Cuomo said at the press conference.
Between 6,400 and 17,000 tracers will be hired based on projected cases, Cuomo said. Gov. Cuomo has set a goal of 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents to call all contacts of anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, determine exposure, assess symptoms, refer for testing according to established protocols, and provide instructions for isolation or quarantine.
“That means there will be a need for roughly 300 contact tracers in Westchester County,” County Legislator Lyndon Williams shared with Black Westchester.
The contract tracing system is being developed in partnership with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who pledged $10 million to help fund the effort, and Johns Hopkins University.
“How can we begin to loosen these restrictions and begin reopening the economy?” asked Bloomberg during the press conference via video chat. “One of the most important steps we have to take to reopen 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 said New York is creating the contract tracing “playbook” that will be shared with New Jersey and Connecticut. In order to become a contact tracer, people will need to go through training and pass an online exam, Cuomo said.
Contact tracing will be a three-step process: after a person tests positive, they will be interviewed about contacts from the previous 14 days, and then those contacts will be isolated for 14 days, according to Gov. Cuomo.
New York City alone is hiring 1,000 contact tracers with a “healthcare background,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who joined Cuomo’s press conference via video call.
In order to ramp up these efforts, the New York State Contact Tracing Initiative is hiring in three categories: Contact Tracers, Team Supervisors, and Community Support Specialists.
If you or anyone you know is interested in applying for these positions, applications and information are available online now at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/get-involved-how-you-can-help