The New York City effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus through contact tracing has been hampered by the reluctance of many people who are infected with the virus to provide information for the tracers, according to a report in Le New York Times.
The timeline report said only 35% of the 5,347 city residents who tested positive or suspected were positive for COVID-19 within the first two weeks of the contact tracing program gave information on their close contacts.
Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the School of Public Health at Rutgers University, called the 35% rate for getting the contacts “very bad”.
“For each person, you should be in touch with 75% of their resources within a day,” Halkitis told Times.
Dr. Ted Long, head of New York City’s New Test and Corps Traces, defended the program on Sunday and said that 69% of those who completed an interview were available to contacts. “We think it’s a good start, but we also want to get this number,” Long told The Associated Press.
Long says that the 35% figure quoted by the Times represents a percentage of all those who reach tracers, and some of these people, including some who have not had COVID-19 symptoms for weeks, have not relevant contacts to provide.
Long says he believes the program, which started on June 1, will be more successful when the tracers start going from your home in the next week or two, rather than relying on the phone.
New York City has made huge strides in containing the epidemic since the coronavirus shutdown started in March, with more than 320 new cases reported on Thursday, down from several thousand a day during the peak period . But officials say tracking contact effort is crucial to preventing an upsurge as the city enters the second phase of easing coronavirus restrictions on Monday, including outdoor dining at restaurants and shopping stores.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he expects 300,000 to more people to return to their jobs during Phase 2.
Govt. Andrew Cuomo confirmed that the city is on track to begin Phase 2 of the reopening on Monday, and said in a press release that 15 deaths were attributed to COVID-19 in the state on Saturday. Which is the lowest state of death since the start of the epidemic in March.
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