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New Coronavirus Contact Tracing System Launched In Dallas County

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Dallas County and Parkland Hospital unveiled a new COVID-19 reporting and contact tracing system on Thursday.

The hope is the new semi-automated survey will help stop the spread of COVID-19, as cases and hospitalizations in Dallas County continue to spike.

"It's very difficult to keep up with numbers, but this is a tool that is helping us to accomplish this," said Dr. Philip Huang, the director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.

"Systematically, it can break the train of transmission of COVID-19," said Dr. Brett Moran, the Chief Medical Informatics Officer for Parkland.

DCHHS already receives information about who tested positive for COVID-19 from local testing sites. That information will now be shared with Parkland and the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation.

From there, every COVID-19 patient will receive a survey via text or email.

They will be asked to list the people they may have exposed over the past two weeks.

That data will then be sent to a data warehouse, where tracers will get in touch with those potential contacts.

The patient's contacts will then receive another survey asking them about potential symptoms. People who show an indication of a positive diagnosis will be directed to a local testing center.

Moran indicated that a future phase of the program would allow for daily symptom monitoring for those contacts.

In recent weeks, tracing apps that use tracking technology have made headlines over questions of privacy protection.

But Moran explicitly stated this system does not use that technology.

"This is not that app, " Moran said. "This is not tracking your phone at all. This is merely a text that takes you to a website."

Parkland and Dallas County officials are urging people to complete the survey if they receive one.

Moran said 225 contacts have been identified since the system's launch on Monday.

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