HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont announced that the state will be soon rolling out a new contact tracing program as another way to monitor COVID-19 in the state.
New York state wants to partner with Connecticut and New Jersey to launch a massive contact tracing effort, something we’re already seeing done with volunteers from Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital.
State officials say this is a 100-year-old process of infection control. It’s also something we’re seeing done in other countries that have passed their coronavirus peak and officials believe it could be a key to getting the virus under control here in Connecticut.
“What contact tracing does do is it allows us to isolate the virus, slow down the rate of the spread,” he explained. “Right now, Connecticut, by a number of metrics, is doing pretty well in slowing the rate of spread, but we can do better with contact tracing.”
So, what does contact tracing mean for potential carriers of the virus? When someone is infected with COVID-19, public health workers and volunteers would make phone calls and track down all the people that person has been in contact with so they too can be tested and potentially isolate. The state plans to bring modern cloud or app-based technology to this initiative.
All of this is an effort to trace the infected person’s movements through the community to other places where they may have spread the virus. If a person tests positive, health officials will then track who they’ve had contact with recently.
The system isn’t official yet, but Lamont said it’s going to play a key role in getting Connecticut back open.
“Medical students and nursing students, PA student, and public health students [will] help us with this effort for capacity,” said Maritza Bond, New Haven Health Director. “That has been a very successful model, and so we currently have over 160 volunteers.”
The Connecticut Health Department has already had a conference call with 64 different health departments to talk about how they can trace all of the COVID contacts, how to reach out to them and how it can be done so they don’t violate civil liberties.
Officials said it might have to be on a volunteer or anonymous basis or, maybe, some will receive anonymous notifications that they came into contact with someone who tested positive.
“This is not going to be the traditional Connecticut model where everyone kind of does their own thing,” Josh Geballe with the governor’s office said. “We’re working together. Our DPH team had a call with the local health departments earlier today, so we’re working on an integrated strategy to make sure we’re able take advantage of all of the resources we have plus volunteers.”