The COVID Crisis: Test And Trace, Mayor de Blasio Announces NYC Test And Trace Corps

May 9, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the City’s comprehensive plan to test, trace, and treat every case of COVID-19. Through a partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals, the City’s “Test and Trace Corps” will launch with 1,000 contact tracers to investigate cases, trace and monitor contacts, and manage all case data and inquiries by the end of May.

Their work will allow the City to immediately isolate and care for those who test positive for the virus, and then rapidly track, assess, and quarantine anyone they came into contact with who they may have infected.

“With every resource at our disposal, we are moving mountains to test and trace every New Yorker,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “COVID-19 has challenged us in ways we never thought possible, but it’s no match for the ingenuity of our city.”

“Throughout the public health system’s pandemic response, our strategic planning and actions have been evidence-based, science-driven and focused on providing high-quality care to our patients,” says NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “The Test and Trace Corps will allow us to expand testing capacity, trace the most vulnerable to serious impact of the virus, to improve on isolation for asymptomatic people, and strive to suppress outbreaks whenever they might arise.”

The Test and Trace Corps, housed within NYC Health + Hospitals, will be led by Dr. Ted Long, NYC Health + Hospitals, Jackie Bray, NYC Mayor’s Office, Dr. Andrew Wallach, NYC Health + Hospitals, Dr. Jay Varma, the Mayor’s Senior Advisor for Public Health, and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Partnering with Community Clinics

With the goal of testing 20,000 people per day by May 25th, the City will expand its testing capacity and set up additional community testing sites across the five boroughs. These sites will operate outside of the traditional clinics and hospital settings to minimize the burden on the healthcare system. Through these additional sites, the City will aim to test 50,000 people per day by August 1st, 2020.

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Through partnerships with community clinics, the City will support community health providers in neighborhoods hardest hit by the virus. Additionally, independent testing centers will be created across the five boroughs using existing infrastructure such as senior centers and government buildings.

Beginning today, NYC Health + Hospitals will expand beyond its 13 community testing sites to offer free walk-in COVID-19 testing at all 11 acute hospitals. Since April 17th, NYC Health + Hospitals has tested over 16,000 community members for COVID-19 across its 13 community testing sites.

Contact Tracers

Starting immediately, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) will transfer nearly 40 of its experienced contact tracers, who will lead and supervise incoming contact tracers, to the public health system. H+H will hire 1,000 additional people by the end of May with an immediate start date.

Contact tracers should have public health backgrounds and an understanding of racism and its impact on underrepresented communities. Details on the scope of work, job requirements, salary, benefits, and how to apply are available here.

Isolation and Care

As part of the Test and Trace Corps, the City will also work with each person who has COVID-19 to connect them immediately to care and help them safely isolate at home, a hotel, or a hospital. The City will also ensure their close contacts are rapidly traced, assessed, and quarantined at home or a hotel, as necessary.

The City will provide meals, clean clothes, and medical refills for anyone who is isolated and quarantined who may require assistance. To help confirmed patients’ self-quarantine, support services such as groceries, laundry and pet services will be provided.

Using telemedicine, the City will perform remote medical checks on those in isolation and quarantine and evaluate individuals with symptoms to determine whether they should be tested or not.

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