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Coronavirus Jobs: Cuomo Calls To Fill More Contact Tracing Openings Amid Reopening

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - With thousands out of work because of the economic shutdown during the coronavirus outbreak, New York's governor is hoping some unemployed or those looking for more work will join the scientific follow-up fight as contact tracers.

"You too can be a tracer, it's a great second job," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his daily COVID-19 update on Monday.

"We're opening regions that have hit the data points, hit the metrics," said Cuomo. "Western New York has one metric that they have to hit, which is the number of tracers. They need 521 tracers."

Contact tracers identify infected individuals based on test results, obtained by city and state health departments. Then they contact people — initially by phone, in most cases — who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

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Local leaders have been calling for thousands more New Yorkers to get tested for the coronavirus, even for the uninsured at urgent care centers.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

After testing, tracers then contact people who tested positive to recall the names of everyone with whom they have recently come into contact. Contact tracers will then warn those people of their potential exposure, advise them to self-quarantine and provide them with access to resources they might need in order to follow protocol.

Tri-State Area officials cite testing and tracing will be key to reopening the economy in wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week New York City expanded efforts with 12 new testing sites and hundreds of contact tracers currently undergoing training.


Getting test results quickly is paramount, said Christiana Coyle, a professor at NYU School of Global Public Health and formerly a contact tracer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who spoke to CBS News.

"If there is a three-day lag between the test and results, depending on where that person goes, hundreds of people could be exposed — versus if a person is tested and gets the results 15 minutes later, they can begin taking precautions immediately," she said. "When you don't receive results for a couple of days, the value of testing is greatly diminished if they can't be turned around quickly, for the purposes of contact tracing."

Keeping decisions based on the medical numbers rather than political or business pressure has been a common theme across the region's state leaders.

"You in New York have successfully contained the virus for now, but New York is not out of the woods yet," said Dr. Samir Bhatt, a senior lecturer at Imperial College in London who joined Cuomo's Monday briefing via teleconference. "As you reopen New York must continue to watch the data, and follow the science."

Bhatt praised New York State's approach.

"I think the sacrifices people have made, and will continue to make, deserves an applause," he said.

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