Test And Trace In The News
June 25-28, 2020
Bay Area contact tracing shows early signs of success (SF Chronicle) – The Bay Area’s efforts to track COVID-19 cases are showing early signs of success, but making direct contact with positive cases still poses daunting challenges.
Contact tracing, challenged by coronavirus, faces new test in Nevada and its casinos (Nevada Independent) – When delivering test results over the phone, tracers find responses run the gamut. “Are you sure?” ask asymptomatic cases, some are defensive, others nonplussed “yeah, of course I have it”, while many “think the worst and erupt in tears.”
COVID-19 contact tracing in Chattanooga area becomes harder as people distance less (Chattanooga Times Free Press) – While Tennessee continues to ease restrictions and people become more mobile, many residents reject calls from public health officials to wear masks. This is making the work of contact tracers for COVID-19 increasingly difficult.
Airline executives and Pence agree to move forward with contact tracing (CNN)– “Airlines had initially balked at the government’s demand that they collect detailed contact information on all passengers and distribute it to public health officials if requested.”
An Update on the NYC COVID Contact Tracing Program (WNYC) – The executive director of Test & Trace Corps discusses the necessity of New York’s contact tracing program on an episode of The Brian Lehrer Show.
‘Pool testing’ could help US crank up to millions of tests per day (STAT) – Some experts are promoting the practice of combining samples from multiple people to test in groups as a way to raise testing volume.
Delaware launches COVID-19 contract tracing system (Delaware State News) – State is hiring 200 dedicated contact tracers.
Trump Follows Through on Threat to ‘Slow the Testing Down’ (Yahoo!) – Administration pulling funding from drive-through coronavirus testing sites in five states.
The cost of a COVID-19 test is all over the map (KXAN) – Investigation looks into wide ranges of prices for tests.
Alabama health officer worried COVID-19 is too widespread for contact tracing to work (Alabama Political Reporter) – State is hitting record highs in positive coronavirus cases.
June 22-24, 2020
How to Quickly Scale Up Contact Tracing Across the U.S. (TED Talks) – Video interview with Joia Mukherjee, chief medical officer of Partners in Health, discussing how her team is applying experience working around the world to working with public health agencies in the United States to ramp up contact tracing for vulnerable communities.
How Hawaii Became a Rare Covid Success Story (Politico) – In February with few available tests, six state health workers began contact tracing, staffing up, and enforcing a 14-day quarantine for arrivals as well as case contacts. Working through weekends, they were able to track down “all contacts for the state’s 762 cases to date, largely cutting off the virus as it sought new hosts.”
COVID contact tracers are needed, and Johns Hopkins offers a free course to learn how (WJLA-TV) – The five-hour online course has been popular and is being a credential for hiring.
In Delhi’s revised COVID combat plan, all houses to be screened by July 6; surveillance, contact tracing on focus (Jagran English) – The city has been divided into containment zones, which will be sealed to break the chain of transmission; cases are found to cluster.
Parts of Pa. reopened without robust coronavirus contact tracing to keep residents safe (Philadelphia Intelligencer) – Contact tracing is needed as businesses reopen to keep outbreaks from (re)occurring and making more shut-downs necessary. However, Pennsylvania has no statewide system in place.
Texas needs to at least triple its number of contact tracers, according to one research model: Without a vaccine, contact tracing is the best way to fight COVID-19 (WFAA-TV) – As case numbers surge, the old estimates of how many tracers the state would need are no longer enough.
What Contact Tracing Tells Us About Cluster Spread of the Coronavirus and Protests (NPR) – Contact tracing also helps us learn how the virus is spread. It turns out anti-police protests haven’t resulted in clusters, “a testament to how effective masks are in preventing the spread of this disease.”
CDC director: US has about 28,000 contact tracers, needs 100,000 (The Hill) – At a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said increasing the number of contact tracers is “going to be critical for what we’re doing.”
For contact tracing to work, public health authorities must regain the trust of Black communities (Vox) – “A long history of surveillance and racist medical experiments does not make Black Americans want to give up personal information to the government,” Katelyn Esmonde writes.
More Than 4,000 Close Contacts Of Coronavirus Exposure Identified Through Contact Tracing In Pennsylvania (CBS Local Affiliate) – According to the State Department of Health, there are 500 trained contact tracers, including 130 state health nurses; another 800 individuals have volunteered to be contact tracers.
Contact Tracing Programs Are Crucial to Beating Coronavirus – but Some Cities are Struggling (People) – Low response rate and privacy concerns are barriers to effective large-scale contact tracing in places like New York City.
As COVID-19 cases surge, Austin Public Health says contact tracing isn’t doing much (KXAN) – Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott says effective contact tracing in other countries “happened when the places generally were shut down, when people weren’t moving around. That’s not what we’re doing here.”
June 18-21, 2020
Coronavirus app failure leaves tracing plan in disarray (The Times) – UK app may never be released to the public.
As States Reopen, Do They Have The Workforce They Need To Stop Coronavirus Outbreaks? (NPR) – Survey shows that even though contact tracers have tripled nationally in the last six weeks, most states still fall short of recommended staffing numbers.
Warning: COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps Could Be Turned Into Tools For Domestic Abuse (Forbes) – Support groups are calling for strong privacy protections to protect abuse victims.
Prime Minister announces new mobile app to help notify Canadians of COVID-19 exposure – PM Justin Trudeau launches Canada’s first contact tracing app.
N.Y.C. Hired 3,000 Workers for Contact Tracing. It’s Off to a Slow Start. (New York Times) – New York City’s contact tracing workers are having a hard time getting enough information from positive patients to actually trace and isolate contacts.
As Alaska cases of COVID-19 go up, so does demand for contact tracing (Anchorage Daily News) – Alaska’s recent surge in cases is prompting the state to recruit more contact tracers.
NCDHHS chooses businesses to support contact tracing, testing (WCTI ABC 12) – North Carolina has selected 26 businesses as qualified vendors to supply tools for its contact tracing program.
Gov. Ducey calls on National Guard to help contact trace a month after stay-at-home order expired (ABC 15) – Arizona’s Governor has asked for 300 National Guard members to work on contact tracing as the state’s cases surge.
June 14-17, 2020
Analysis: U.S. Isn’t ready for the contact tracing it needs to stem the coronavirus (Washington Post) – U.S. “capacity to contact and warn the web of people they potentially exposed to the virus is sorely lacking.”
Penn State to resume classes this fall: Social distancing, masks, testing and tracing included in plans (The [Lockhaven, PA] Express) – Penn State is hiring its own contact tracers to support its reopening plan for the fall.
Contact tracing key to moving forward ([Waterloo, IL] Republic-Times) – Southern Illinois has had great cooperation from the community to trace contacts. An additional problem with surges in case numbers is that it makes it harder to keep up with tracing.
Back to Work: The Use of Contact Tracing Technology to Improve Worker Safety (JDSupra.com) – Contact tracing apps may not be clear about what data they collect, what it’s used for, where it’s stored, or how conclusions are drawn. What are best practices and what are the privacy issues?
AGs Urge Apple, Google to Ensure Privacy of COVID-19 Contact Tracing (Health IT Security) – The National Association of Attorneys General survey about confidence in tracing apps’ consumer privacy protections.
England’s ‘World Beating’ System to Track the Virus Is Anything But (New York Times) – The newly hired contact tracers in the UK are hampered by insufficient training and poor coordination between public health officials and private testing firms.
Europe Rolls Out Contact Tracing Apps, With Hope and Trepidation (New York Times) – “Italy and Germany activated apps this week as tools to avoid a second wave of coronavirus infections, fueling a debate about privacy rights.”
In Rural Texas, COVID-19 Contact Tracing is Largely Up to Local Officials, If It Happens at All (Texas Observer) – “As public health experts warn of new waves of infections this summer or fall, experts say there’s still not a robust system in place to track the coronavirus, particularly in rural areas.”
Ohio State students help with COVID-19 contact tracing (Ohio State News) – “This is a hard job in that you have to be prepared to repeatedly talk to people who are very stressed and very scared,” epidemiology professor Bill Miller said.
Despite army of workers, coronavirus contact tracing in Washington state is challenging (Seattle Times) – County investigators — which trained and started tracing while the state’s team was still forming — found more than 40% of phone numbers missing, and people who test positive aren’t always responsive when tracers call.
Arizona’s new coronavirus spike is worrisome (Vox) – While its cases doubled in two weeks, the state was deploying tests to popup drive-thru labs, which is different than seeking out people who have been exposed and testing then isolating them.
Airline passengers brought COVID-19 into LAX in March – and no one warned the public (LA Times) – The LA Times identified “two long-haul flights into LAX in March … in which public health officials failed to alert passengers and crew who had flown with a person who later tested COVID-positive.”
As California Trains 20,000 Contact Tracers, Librarians and Tax Assessors Step Up (NPR) – California has asked librarians, tax assessors, city attorneys, and even sheriff deputies to contact trace.
Germany says coronavirus tracing app ready to go (Reuters) – The app uses bluetooth short-range radio to detect and contact people at risk of infection by coronavirus and does not rely on a centralised database.
June 10-13, 2020
Coronavirus contact tracing apps were tech’s chance to step up. They haven’t.(NBC News) – States aren’t embracing digital contact tracing apps, even though developers think they still have a chance.
Fake contact-tracing apps delivering banking trojans (Computer Weekly) – Spoof coronavirus apps are emerging around the world.
Can Coronavirus Contact Tracing Survive Reopening? (The New Yorker) – Profile of contact tracing program in Massachusetts.
In South Korea, you can see every store COVID-19 positive people have been(Fast Company) – South Korea’s location data program was more successful at containing the coronavirus than a lockdown, and it did less economic damage.
How Reliable Are COVID-19 Tests? (Intelligencer) – Concerns over inconclusive test results are growing as testing ramps up across the country.
Contact tracing could be a regular part of office life. Here’s how it will work(CNN) – Explainer on methods for contact tracing that could become part of the typical workday.
Over 80% Of Finance And Tech Companies Say “No” To Coronavirus Contact Tracing (Forbes) – Survey suggests workers may not embrace contact tracing in the office.
When you can’t quarantine at home: COVID-19 contact tracers aim to help(NPR) – Profile of a contact tracing interaction, explanation of the process and rationale, helping people who test positive find a place to quarantine (do they live in a household with people who are negative, do they have a pet who needs care, are they homeless). Focus on a tracer and the numbers in Utah.
UK wouldn’t have coped with coronavirus crisis without help of tech giants, health minister says (CNBC) – Britain’s NHS has sought advice, technical support, and data management software from companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Palantir, which raises concerns about privacy and privatization.
In close contact: UC San Diego groups working on contact tracing in COVID-19 battle (La Jolla Light) – Researchers at UC San Diego are working on better tests to establish active infection or antibodies (past infection and recover) but also an app for contact tracing called TraceCorona.
New coronavirus scam: How to spot bogus contact tracing texts, emails and calls (The Morning Call) – Real contact tracers won’t tell you which of your contacts tested positive, and they won’t ask for financial info or other identity-theft fodder.
How a scrappy team of school nurses hunted the coronavirus in Revere (Boston Globe) – When the city’s schools closed because of the coronavirus, the district’s school nurses became the area’s first contact tracers.
Can location data capture how well the Covid-19 response is working? A joint effort aims to find out (STAT) – Using large-scale movements of population to develop a software tool for tracing.
June 7-9, 2020
How to quickly scale up contact tracing across the US (TED) – “Joia Mukherjee, chief medical officer of Partners in Health, discusses how her team is working with public health agencies to ramp up contact tracing for the country’s most vulnerable communities — and shows why it will take a compassionate approach to be truly effective.”
Contact Tracing: The Need For Accurate Data Has Never Been Greater (Forbes) – Is existing bluetooth technology capable of producing data that is accurate enough for contact-tracing COVID-19?
Poland rolls out privacy-secure coronavirus tracking app (Reuters) – “Poland has released its latest version of a smartphone application to help to track coronavirus outbreaks, which has been adapted to address concerns about privacy.”
Contact Tracing Is a Time-Tested Method for Fighting Outbreaks but It’s Facing New Challenges (WKSU / NPR) – A review of Contact Tracing methods in Ohio.
Officials Hope Residents Respond to Contact Tracing Calls (Governing) –Health officials hope if residents hear the ring and see “MD COVID” on the caller ID they will answer.
Bucks County traces 12 new coronavirus cases to Jersey Shore gatherings, illustrating importance of contact tracing during reopening (Philadelphia Inquirer) – “We have been one of the few counties that have done contact tracing from the get go,” county spokesperson Larry King said.
Amazon warehouse workers file lawsuit claiming ‘sloppy contact tracing’ (CNBC) – “We’re not asking them to violate HIPAA laws, but to perform accurate contact tracing,” attorney Frank Kearl said. “Telling people not to tell others they tested positive is not recommended by the CDC.”
No, coronavirus apps don’t need 60% adoption to be effective (MIT Technology Review) – Digital contact tracing may work at much lower levels of usage than most people think, thanks to a misunderstanding of the research.
Profile of Apple-Google contact tracing API reveals how project started (Apple Insider) A profile of the Swiss scientists who initiated the Apple-Google contact tracing API project.
No Trace and Test Tools in Place as Coronavirus Hospitalizations Rise: Ex-FDA Chief (NBC New York) – The U.S. lacks the infrastructure necessary to deal with a second wave of COVID-19, according to former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
COVID testing: More isn’t necessarily better, ‘it’s all about how smart they are testing’ (USA Today) – Experts looking for system “that gets the right test to the right person at the right time.”
June 4-6, 2020
No Trace and Test Tools in Place as Coronavirus Hospitalizations Rise: Ex-FDA Chief (NBC New York) – The U.S. lacks the infrastructure necessary to deal with a second wave of COVID-19, according to former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
NYC Scrambling to Hire Contact Tracers Needed to Reopen Safely (City Journal) – Bureaucratic delays have played a part in slowing the hiring process.
COVID testing: More isn’t necessarily better, ‘it’s all about how smart they are testing’ (USA Today) – Experts looking for system “that gets the right test to the right person at the right time.”
Diversity Among Disease Detectives Key to Containing Coronavirus (KQED) – San Francisco wants contact tracers who speak multiple languages.
At-Home COVID-19 Testing Arrives, With Accuracy and Access Questions (The Wall Street Journal) – Affordability a major concern after regulators approve at-home coronavirus tests.
Pooled Covid-19 Testing May Help Us Get Back To Work and School (Forbes) – Practice involves combining multiple swabs from people into one test.
Immunostics Inc. COVID-19 Testing Solution for Universities and Colleges (OA Online) – Company and Univ of Utah professor develop a rapid antibody test and protocol for use at colleges.
Covid-19 news: NHS Test and Trace not tracing enough to be effective (New Scientist) – The system in place is only contacting 38% of known contacts of people who have been diagnosed with coronavirus. A government advisory group says the need to reach 80% to be effective.
Using contact tracing and GPS to fight spread of COVID-19 (GPS World) – Automated tracing would be much faster than manual tracing, important to stop a highly contagious disease. The article has a good paragraph about what contact tracing is in public health generally, and addresses privacy and ethical concerns.
As New York City Begins To Reopen Next Week, All Eyes Will Be On Efficiency Of Hired Contact Tracers (WLNY TV) – A hospital is in charge of the tracing instead of the Department of Health, and there’s been some disarray getting so many new employees on board and trained.
Colorado sets goal of at least 10,000 COVID-19 tests a day by flu season (Denver Post) – The state is currently doing 7,000 to 8,000 tests per day. The increase is needed to accommodate the influx of people with suspicious symptoms when flu season coincides, and to reach a threshold of percentage of positives, which indicates that they aren’t missing cases. Currently contact tracing is highly variable, depending on county and whether a particular case is linked to an outbreak.
May 31-June 3, 2020
Wuhan’s mass testing may have eradicated the coronavirus (Bangkok Post) – Wuhan authorities said they found no new cases of “silent spreaders” for the first time in nearly two months as the city’s aggressive push to test its entire population appears to have succeeded in breaking hidden chains of transmission.
Test And Trace Could Replace Quarantine For Travellers, Top Scientist Suggests (Huffington Post UK) – Vacationers could submit themselves to coronavirus testing and contact tracing rather than being forced into quarantine on their return to the UK, according to government testing tsar Professor John Newton, which could replace plans for mandatory 14-day quarantine that are opposed by some.
Speed, compliance and monitoring crucial to test and trace programs (University College London) – “Test, trace and isolate programs could help control the spread of COVID-19 if test results are delivered quickly, contacts are traced and public compliance is high, finds a report co-authored by UCL’s Professor Dame Anne Johnson.”
100+ Arizona Physicians: Test, trace and isolate in Arizona now (Tucson.com opinion) – “As physicians, we know that it is imperative that our state acts urgently and decisively if we are to save the lives of perhaps thousands of Arizonans who could otherwise die needlessly from this terrible disease. This is a STAT call to action.”
Why Contact Tracing Apps Will Be The Biggest Test Yet Of Data Privacy Versus Public Safety (Forbes) – “Most of us don’t really understand the exact details of what data will be collected [in contact tracing apps], what it will be used for, and who will have access to it. This means that there is a danger that people may distrust these apps and refuse to use them. If an insufficient number of people decide to take part, the overall effectiveness of the app becomes greatly diminished.”
Real or Scam? How to Spot Phony Contact Tracing Calls and Texts (NBC Bay Area) – The state says California Connected callers will only share health information about possible exposure. They will not ask for any personal information, like your Social Security Number or bank accounts. They won’t ask any personal health questions. And, they will not charge you anything.
The founder of a contact tracing firm that’s fielded 80,000 job applications in 5 weeks describes what he’s looking for in an applicant (Business Insider) – Waters urges organizations to hire locally, and to ensure that contact tracers belong to communities that are hard-hit by the pandemic.
Don’t Mix Policing with COVID-19 Contact Tracing (Electronic Frontier Foundation) – This analogy is misleading and dangerous. It also underlines the need for public health officials to practice strict data minimization—including a ban on sharing with police any personal information collected through contact tracing.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt recommends that a law be passed governing COVID-19 contact tracing (WIBW) – The state Attorney General says that this process needs more of a legal framework for the protection of personal information and civil liberties.
Legacy at Town Square senior living community using device for contact tracing (ABC7 Amarillo) – “They can retroactively go back and rewind 14 days and look at which individuals came in contact with other individuals and the duration of the contact in those rooms,” Wilmink said.
‘It’s all over the board.’ California still far from testing everyone in elder care homes (Los Angeles Times) – Despite Gov Newsom’s plans to make nursing home testing a priority, California’s testing in elder care homes has been scattershot.
Delaware begins virus contact tracing operations (Delaware State News) – Delaware rolls out its contact tracing program at the same time as it enters phase one of reopening.
Elkins-Randolph Health Department hosts community COVID-19 testing in response to Huttonsville outbreak (CBS Fox 59) – After a COVID-19 outbreak at a correctional facility in Elkins, West Virginia, the local health department set up two free testing sites to see if the outbreak had reached farther than the facility.
May 27-30, 2020
Contact tracing can help avoid another lockdown. Can it work in the U.S.? (STAT) – Experts say U.S. needs “more money, more people and more cooperation” to make contact tracing effective.
Florida Plans to Increase Contact Tracing Capacity (WUSF) – State is working to add 600 contact tracers in next three weeks.
How rapid can coronavirus tests get? (Fortune) – Testing speed is key to managing a virus outbreak.
Switzerland pilots a contact tracing app using Apple and Google’s tech (Engadget) – SwissCovid appears to be the first app to put the Apple-Google model to use.
Coronavirus Testing Machines Are Latest Bottleneck In Troubled Supply Chain (NPR) – “Civilian labs and the Pentagon say they’ve had trouble getting the sophisticated, automated machines that can run hundreds of diagnostic tests at once.”
Bad state data hides coronavirus threat as Trump pushes reopening (Politico) – Problems include inflated metrics for testing.
Chicago announces grant for community-based organizations to expand contact tracing (Chicago.gov) – The $56 million two-year grant will enable organizations to bring on 600 new contact tracers.
Why is Missouri so far behind on testing and contact tracing? (The Kansas City Star) – Op-ed on the state’s lack of coronavirus testing and the impact on its recovery plan.
Don’t waste coronavirus tests on those already showing symptoms. There’s a smarter way. (USA Today) – Opinion piece arguing that testing should focus on symptom-free essential workers.
May 24-26, 2020
While U.S. struggles to roll out coronavirus contact tracing, Germany has been doing it from the start (Washington Post) – “Epidemiologists say the [low-tech] effort has been essential to the country’s ability to contain its coronavirus outbreak and avoid the larger death tolls seen elsewhere, even with a less stringent shutdown than in other countries.”
The one vital message of nearing 100,000 US deaths (CNN) – “Jeffrey D. Sachs writes that it’s time for Congress and the White House to end the deadly politics of distraction and start focusing on ways to control the Covid-19 pandemic.”
De Blasio hires 1,700 contact tracers, downplays privacy concerns (Politico) – “New York City has hired 1,700 contact tracers as part of an effort to ramp up coronavirus testing and contain new cases,” along with a $10 million ad campaign, plus conducting 50,000 coronavirus tests a day by Aug. 1.
Privacy Concerns Over Utah’s COVID-19 Tracing App Spur Proposal Of New Bill (KEUR 90.1) – “State Sen. Dan Hemmert, R-Orem, is planning to sponsor a bill aimed at protecting the privacy of Utahns who use the state’s COVID-19 voluntary contact tracing app”
Wayne County, Ohio doubles contact tracing efforts (Wooster Daily Record) – “The eradication of smallpox, for example, was achieved not by universal immunization alone, but by exhaustive contact tracing to find all infected persons,” said Susan Varnes, the director of patient care at the Wayne County Health Department.
Don’t Be Fooled by Covid-19 Contact-Tracing Scams (Wired) – For example, real health department contact tracers will never ask you for your Social Security number, credit card details, or other financial information.
How Clark County COVID-19 contact sleuths trace, notify those at risk (Las Vegas Review-Journal) – Its work has helped identify clusters of cases at nursing homes and at the Allegiant Stadium construction project.
Joint Task Force to Provide COVID-19 Testing in Texas Nursing Homes (NBC DFW) – Fire chiefs in Texas collaborate to provide testing for regional nursing homes.
Virginia Struggles With Testing: There’s Not Nearly Enough Supply (Courthouse News Service) – In past press conferences, Governor Ralph Northam set a benchmark of 10,000 tests day for reopening. Despite that, areas of Virginia are opening up while the state is only conducting 4,500 tests per day.
Maine’s largest hospital labs see progress amid coronavirus testing struggles (Piscataquis Observer) – Laboratories in Maine have not been using their full test processing capacity because of a lack of tests. That could soon change as MaineHealth, the largest health system in northern New England, expands testing.
May 20-23, 2020
‘How Could the CDC Make That Mistake?’ (The Atlantic) – An investigation finds the CDC is conflating the results of viral and antibody tests for the coronavirus, which is distorting the country’s picture of the pandemic.
Governor Hogan Announces Launch of Robust Contact Tracing Operation to Support Local Health Departments (press release) – Maryland’s governor announced that 1,400 contact tracers will be “fully operational” statewide next week.
Number of COVID-19 and antibody tests in Texas increasing, but state still falls short (ABC13.com) – Texas is not reaching Governor Abbot’s goal of 30,000 tests per day.
The race is on for a COVID-19 test you can take at home (MIT Technology Review) – People may be able to test themselves for the coronavirus by the end of 2020.
The Success of Contact Tracing Doesn’t Just Depend on Privacy (WIRED; Op-ed) – How accuracy concerns will play a key role in adopting contact tracing technology.
Trained and ready, Washington’s contact tracers making hundreds of calls to help fight coronavirus (The Seattle Times) – State has trained more than 2,100 people to work as contact tracers.
Virginia to spend $58 million in federal aid to expand contact tracing of COVID-19 cases (Richmond Times-Dispatch) – State plans to hire 1,000 contact tracers and 200 communicable disease investigators.
As the Nation Begins Virus Tracing, It Could Learn From This N.J. City (New York Times) – A highly effective contact tracing program is underway in Paterson, N.J.
May 16-19, 2020
Johns Hopkins trains 22,000 contact tracers on Coursera in the first week(Coursera Blog) – The course teaches the fundamentals of contact tracing, such interview strategies and ethical considerations.
Texas signs $295M deal with MTX Group to manage COVID-19 contact tracing buildup (Houston Chronicle) – MTX signed the 27-month deal as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tries to get 4,000 contact tracers in place by the end of the month.
Illinois formalizes contact tracing program with 2 pilot counties (Journal Gazette & Times-Courier) – The two pilot counties, St. Clair County, outside St. Louis, and Lake County, north of Chicago, will immediately ramp up their contact tracing capabilities for newly-discovered COVID-19 patients.
Most states still aren’t doing enough coronavirus testing (Axios) – 40 states are falling behind in their COVID-19 testing goals, according to data from the Harvard Global Health Initiative. Reopening without sufficient testing means the virus would be more likely to increase its spread in these states.
State and Federal Data on COVID-19 Testing Don’t Match Up (The Atlantic) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing state-by-state testing data for the first time, but its numbers don’t match what’s being reported by states.
South Omaha testing site runs out of tests after giant drive-thru turnout(WOWT 6 News) – A drive-thru testing site in South Omaha ran out of 300 tests in one day. The city plans to open up more drive-thru testing sites this week.
With New York Deal, CVS Health Broadens U.S. Coronavirus Testing (Forbes) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo teams up with CVS to reach 40,000 tests per day in the state.
May 15, 2020
I Enrolled in a Coronavirus Contact Tracing Academy (WIRED) – What to expect from online contact tracing courses.
Contact tracing must balance privacy and public health (STAT) – Op-ed from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and his brother David, a physician and president of The Commonwealth Fund, on the privacy concerns surrounding contact tracing efforts.
Millions risk being locked out of Covid-19 contact tracing app (The Guardian) – British officials are being warned that obstacles such as lack of internet access and technical skills could reduce adoption of digital contact tracing apps in the UK.
Democrats introduce bill to protect health data used for tracing the coronavirus (CNBC) – Measures include requiring companies collecting data to meet security standards.
May 14, 2020
Availability of coronavirus tests for NYC has increased significantly.
“Over the past couple of weeks, the United States has seen significant improvements not just with the raw number of Covid-19 tests but also with other metrics experts use to gauge the scope of the US’s coronavirus outbreak and its testing capacity.”
COVID-19 testing expands in Nevada after shortages (8newsnow.com)
State is now testing approximately 3,000 residents per day.
Nearly 40% of Icelanders are using a covid app—and it hasn’t helped much (MIT Technology Review)
Impact has been small relative manual contract tracing for the coronavirus.
Looks at some of the privacy concerns surrounding approaches to screening for COVID-19 symptoms and contact tracing.
May 13, 2020
State will offer free COVID-19 tests to all Vermonters who want one at pop-up clinics (Burlington Free Press)
Asymptomatic residents can now get tested at pop-up clinics around Vermont.
Eleven million people in the Wuhan district are expected to be tested as the result of a minor outbreak.
Shortages of different supplies exist at different times in the supply chain for coronavirus tests.
As COVID-19 Testing Grows, So Does Contact Tracing (Wisconsin Public Radio)
Wisconsin health officials have trained more than 400 contact tracers to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“Without an overarching plan, state public health agencies are developing their own strategies on hiring and training contact tracers.”
Recommendations include increasing usage of masks, implementing a more effective testing strategy and hiring more contact tracers.
May 12, 2020
Program is open to University of Houston students and staff members.
The U.S. leads the world in total tests for the coronavirus, but it trails several countries when controlling statistics for population.
“Aviation and public health experts said that tests are unlikely to be the silver bullet that will revive the industry in the near term.”
Interview with former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Andy Slavitt and ex-FDA chief Scott Gottlieb on federal and state reopening strategies.
Testifying before a Senate committee, Anthony Fauci said the U.S. will “without a doubt” see a resurgence in COVID-19 infections and deaths in the fall absent if testing, contact tracing and social distancing measures aren’t ramped up.
May 11, 2020
Maine’s new testing, tracing capabilities may allow for quicker, safer reopening (Portland Press-Herald)
State is increasing its coronavirus testing volume by an additional 5,000 per week.
Defense Department wants help improving COVID-19 contact tracing at NC’s Fort Bragg (The News & Observer)
DoD’s National Security Innovation Network is asking students for ideas on automating identification and contact tracing of potential coronavirus patients.
This course will train an army of contact tracers. You can take it, too. (Washington Post)
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health unveiled a course on online platform Coursera to teach fundamentals of contact tracing.
Techsplained@FE: Is Bluetooth enough for contact tracing? (Financial Express)
Column on need to use Bluetooth and GPS technologies for successful contact-tracing programs.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) call for expanding national service programs in response to coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. has to ramp up coronavirus testing to give employees sense of security to return to work, according to Tennessee senator.
May 10, 2020
App would allow people in under-resourced countries to assess symptoms and may have Bluetooth feature for contact tracing.
Now hiring: New York looking for thousands of contact tracers to slow COVID-19 spread (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)
Department of Health has received 7,000 applications since May 1.
Not enough residents with coronavirus symptons are seeking tests.
Rundown of some issues associated with COVID-19 diagnostic tests, including concerns about accuracy.
Contact tracing by app: life-saving or invasion of privacy? (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Privacy advocates are monitoring potential issues related to civil liberties involved in digital contact-tracing apps.
May 9, 2020
There’s One Big Reason the U.S. Economy Can’t Reopen (The Atlantic)
“The country faces the same problem today that it did two months ago: There are not enough tests to contain the virus.”
“President Trump is increasingly dismissing the consensus of health experts, scientists and some of his Republican allies that widespread testing is key to the safe end of restrictions meant to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.”
Curbing Coronavirus With a Contact-Tracing App? It’s Not So Simple. (The Wall Street Journal)
Discussion of limitations of digital contract-tracing technology.
State has 3,500 contact-tracing volunteers working with local health departments.
Tips for finding work as a contact tracer, including details on state programs.
Feature on state’s contact-tracing program, which is expected to include 400 volunteers.
May 8, 2020
Explainer on current debate over allocating COVID-19 tests in light of current supply constraints.
Adults who aren’t showing coronavirus symptoms can now schedule tests at the drug store chain’s testing sites.
City plans to have 24 testing sites in service by the end of the month and 300 employees dedicated to contact tracing.
FDA authorizes CRISPR-based test for COVID-19 (The Verge)
Authorized only for emergency use, test can return results in approximately one hour.
Podcast: How to break America’s covid-19 testing bottleneck (MIT Technology Review)
Discussion of fixing coronavirus testing shortfalls at scale.
Feature exploring slow uptake of digital contact tracing strategies by governments.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee plans for new COVID-19 contact tracers (Chattanooga Times Fress Press)
State looking to add to its current workforce of more than 200 contact tracers.
May 7, 2020
Describes the differences between centralized and de-centralized approaches to contact tracing via digital apps.
More than 1,000 newly hired contract tracers are starting work.
Government proposal calls for workforce of up to 4,200 people working for as long as 18 months.
State-by-state look at testing rates.
The sharp hypocrisy of the White House position on testing (Washington Post)
Op-ed on the discrepancy between the Trump administration’s internal policy on coronavirus testing and its guidance to the public.
Millions more coronavirus tests necessary to reopen country, according to Senate HELP Committee chair Lamar Alexander.
Updates to a survey of states’ programs show they now expect to hire a total of 30,000 more contact tracers than they did a week ago.
May 6, 2020
What’s Behind South Korea’s COVID-19 Exceptionalism? (The Atlantic)
“South Korean public-health officials recognized the necessity of early testing and the importance of isolating new patients to prevent secondary infections.”
Self-reporting app that allows users to provide health information voluntarily.
State hiring people to do contact tracing for coronavirus (FOX11online.com)
More than 1,000 people have applied to do contact tracing in Wisconsin.
Florida doesn’t have enough coronavirus contact tracers. Here’s how you can help (South Florida Sun Sentinel)
Practical tips on who to call and what to tell them if you test positive for the coronavirus.
May 5, 2020
Gov. Ned Lamont says Connecticut should have adequate levels of coronavirus testing in place by May 20.
Two sites can test up to 1,500 essential employees combined.
Technique does not require the testing reagents that have been in short supply.
Lockdown Is a Blunt Tool. We Have a Sharper One (New York Times)
Op-ed co-authored by former CDC director Tom Frieden promoting “Box It In” strategy of contact tracing to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Platform will include manual contact tracing.
May 4, 2020
Contact tracing virus helping Pa. counties (Altoona Mirror)
Local officials say contact tracing program helping northern Pennsylvania loosen social distancing restrictions.
Google and Apple preview how contact tracing apps will work (9to5Google.com)
First stage of exposure notification effort coming later this month.
It’s hard to overstate how uneven the access to critical test kits remains in the nation’s largest state.
As deaths fall, Governor Cuomo gives criteria for reopening (New York Times)
Requirements for state’s 10 regions include at least 30 virus tests per 1,000 residents conducted a month and at least 30 working contact tracers per 100,000 residents.
Vermont Health Officials Discuss Plans For Expanded Testing, Contact Tracing (Vermont Public Radio)
State aiming to conduct 7,000 COVID-19 tests per week.
May 4 Update: US COVID-19 Test Results (Calculated Risk)
There were more than 230,000 tests reported in the last 24 hours, with a positive rate of 9.4%.
May 3, 2020
Public health officials say contact tracing defies quick technological fixes.
Why coronavirus testing isn’t so simple (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Explains concerns about reliability of test results.
Concerns are arising about the coordination of the UK’s COVID-19 testing program.
Wisconsin has seen its highest number of completed tests so far in the last 10 days, but positive results aren’t falling.
Contact tracing puts North Dakota at forefront (Bismarck Tribune)
With 350 trained workers, North Dakota is the only state to meet the benchmark of 30 contact tracers per 100,000 people.
Q&A: Paul Romer on How to Survive the Chaos of the Coronavirus (The New Yorker)
Nobel Prize-winning economist believes bimonthly testing would instill confidence in public.
May 2, 2020
A new CDC document outlines critical features of digital apps for contact tracing.
Program could eventually include as many as 3,800 employees doing contact tracing.
COVID-19 ‘testing blitz’ begins in Arizona (Arizona Republic)
Goal is to test 60,000 state residents over three consecutive Saturdays.
State is seeking “more accurate understanding of the true rate of infections in Oregon and to have ongoing precision monitoring of any new outbreaks,” governor says.
Survey finds six-in-ten Americans say tracking people’s locations through their cellphone would not make much of difference in limiting virus’ spread.
May 2 Update: US COVID-19 Test Results (Calculated Risk)
There were nearly 265,000 tests reported in the last 24 hours, with a positive rate of 11.4%.
DC Steps Up COVID-19 Contact Tracing as Cases Rise (NBCWashington.com)
The District of Columbia is hiring 900 contact tracers.
May 1, 2020
State deploying “Caring Vans” as part of plan to test 90,000 residents in May.
Approximately 15,000 tests were submitted to the state health department from April 30 to May 1, the highest-single day total for Virginia so far.
The move to reopen the Texas economy has sparked fears of a second wave of the virus if the state can’t increase testing.
COVID-19 testing, isolating and contact tracing are seen as vital to playing college sports again.
COVID-19 Testing Capacity Improving, Though Challenges Remain (Wisconsin Public Radio)
In Wisconsin, the global shortage of nasal pharyngeal swabs and unstable supply chains continue to hampering efforts to test more residents.
Gov. Kate Brown Lays Out COVID-19 Testing And Contact Tracing As Keys To Reopening Oregon (Oregon Public Broadcasting)
State is hiring 600 new employees to do contact tracing.
April 30, 2020
Inslee rolls out COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard with data (Medium – WA Governor’s Office)
Washington state’s new dashboard shares data behind COVID-19 policy decisions, including gauging capacity for testing and contact tracing.
April 30 Update: US COVID-19 Test Results (Calculated Risk)
More than 200,000 tests reported in the last 24 hours, with a positive rate of 13.5%.
The state plans to hire 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents in affected areas.
Public health experts say the state-by-state patchwork won’t meet the country’s overall need for contact tracing.
The UK government is testing its digital tracing app.
Australian contact-tracing app hits two million downloads (The Telegraph)
The CovidSafe app was downloaded a million times within hours of its launch in Australia.
No new COVID-19 diagnoses in South Korea since early February.
Rundown of latest efforts in U.S. and around the world to boost contact tracing.
April 29, 2020
Public health organizations can start building applications ahead of the launch of a contract-tracing system in mid-May.
Indiana is contracting with a private firm to open a call center staffed with more than 500 people trained to conduct interviews.
Pennsylvania, New Jersey need far more contact tracers to handle the coronavirus (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Pennsylvania will release its plans for a contact tracing program later this week.
Ragtag army of virus tracers shapes up, with states hiring fast (Seattle Times)
States are taking dramatically different approaches to contact tracing programs.
With a second round of the coronavirus “inevitable,” the country’s top infectious disease doctor says testing, tracing and isolating will be key to making sure the next wave isn’t as deadly.
State is near the top for positive cases but at the bottom for the number of tests given in U.S.
To Open the US Economy, We Need a Contact Tracing Workforce of 180,000 (Medium – Andy Slavitt)
The former head of Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act for the Obama administration explains the process behind developing a proposal from public health and medical experts to Congress aimed at ramping up testing and contract tracing in the U.S.
The consensus of public health experts is that digital applications can’t offset the need for in-person, manual contract tracing.
April 28, 2020
An NPR survey shows the vast majority of states need to expand their public health workforces significantly to do contact tracing for tracking coronavirus exposures.
Understanding Digital Contact Tracing: Limitations, Implications and Recommendations (Medium – U.S. Digital Response)
Primer on automated approaches to contract tracing.
Coronavirus: How to Do Testing and Contact Tracing (Medium – Tomas Pueyo)
Looking at the specific steps required to open up the economy.
Interview with Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, about the importance of contact tracing to combating COVID-19.