‘Worrying’: New York hires 3,000 people to follow up on contacts, but finds most people won’t cooperate

A much-hyped effort by New York City officials to prevent a “second wave” of COVID-19 outbreaks has had a “worrying start” in part because most of the people the city has contacted have not fully cooperated with the effort. The development follows the city’s widely-informed decision to prevent contact trackers from asking people if they have participated in the Black Lives Matter protests or riots.

The New York Times first reported on the “troubling” start of the city’s contract search program ahead of the city’s new phase of reopening on Monday, which includes the return of cookouts and shopping in the store, as well as many office workers.

“The city has hired 3,000 disease detectives and case monitors, who are supposed to identify anyone who has come into contact with the hundreds of people who are still testing positive for the virus in the city every day,” Sharon Otterman of the Times reported Sunday. . “But early statistics from the program, which started June 1, indicate that trackers often can’t locate infected people or collect information from them.”

How bad are the numbers? According to recently released city statistics, in the first two weeks of the program, only 35% of the 5,347 city residents believed to be positive for COVID-19 provided tracking information on close contacts. By the third week, only 42% had been willing to provide key information.

The other problems affecting the program include the magnitude of the disease, “the poor use of technology, privacy concerns, and a much less extensive mandate than in some other countries, where apartment buildings, shops are often required, restaurants and other private companies to collect personal information from visitors, making it easy to track the spread, “says Otterman.

Otterman quotes Dr. Ted Long, the expert who heads the city’s Evidence and Tracing Corps, as acknowledging that they were fighting for people to provide contact information over the phone, with some insisting that they had not left their homes. and others left interviews before being asked. Some would not even provide the names of family members with whom they had come into contact.

Otterman writes that “an encouraging sign” that Long could signal is that almost everyone he contacted answered their phones. Long suggested that in-person interviews could produce better results. Contact trackers plan to visit those deemed positive in the next two weeks.

Otterman writes that these early struggles to effectively track down potential infections “raise new concerns about the difficulties of preventing a surge in new cases as states across the country reopen.”

As The Daily Wire reported, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office made it clear last week that the team of contact trackers will not ask subjects if they attended a protest. “No one will be proactively asked if they attended a protest,” de Blasio spokeswoman Avery Cohen told THE CITY. “If a person wants to proactively offer that information, there is an opportunity for them to do so.”

Related: NYC prevents coronavirus contact trackers from asking about protests

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