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Pa. Dept. Of Health Launches New Digital Tool To Help Contact Tracers

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced new technology designed to help slow the spread of coronavirus across the Commonwealth.

The Connect and Protect form is a type of digital case investigation designed to make the contact tracing process much faster.

Lindsey Mauldin, a special assistant with the Pa. Department of Health, said, "As we have shared previously, we needed to prioritize cases in order to prevent an outbreak, which means many were not able to have an investigation within an appropriate timeframe".

Once diagnosed with the coronavirus, public health leaders said new cases will receive a phone call from contact tracers, who will ask for an email address to share the Connect and Protect form.

People will also have the option of receiving a six-digit code to update their test results on the COVID Alert PA app to notify close contacts. Usually, calls with case investigators can last anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes.

This new digital tool eliminates the call time and is currently being offered to people between the ages of 19 and 64 who live in areas without a local health department.

"The survey is very similar to our case investigation survey. It asks about their risk and demographic information and background, as well as where they traveled, where they worked," said Mauldin.

Once the form is completed, contact tracers will then make phone calls to close contacts.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there are currently more than 230 investigators across the Commonwealth handling tens of thousands of cases.

Public health leaders believe this new digital tool will allow them to reach more people in record time.

Pennsylvania's coronavirus alert app remains a strong mitigation tool with over 700,000 users.

Among those using the app, more than 500 people reported their positive coronavirus diagnosis and roughly 250 realized they were exposed, according to new data from the state.

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