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Cuomo: NY, NJ and CT to launch contact tracing program with help from Bloomberg

New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCalifornia plans to review coronavirus vaccine independently Cuomo: Public should be 'very skeptical' about COVID-19 vaccine The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Tipping point week for Trump, Biden, Congress, voters MORE (D) announced Wednesday that New York will partner with New Jersey and Connecticut to launch a tri-state tracing program, with help from former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

The New York governor said during his daily press briefing, that he’s discussed the “massive undertaking” with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D). He said there is no timeline for the program, but tracing is “starting now” and will increase “incrementally.”

“When do you stop ramping up? Maybe never,” he said.

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The three states will work with Bloomberg, Johns Hopkins University and Vital Strategies to institute the program, which he said is “harder done than said.” 

“It’s best to do this tracing on a tri-state area,” he said, adding, “because that’s how our society works. The virus doesn’t stop at jurisdictional boundaries.”

Bloomberg has volunteered to contribute upward of $10 million through the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and help coordinate the effort with the involved governments. 

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The former mayor, who ran for president earlier this year, will assist in designing the programmatic, operational and technological components of the program and develop an online curriculum to train, recruit and interview tracers, Cuomo said. 

“It’s a very big undertaking, and we thank him very much for taking it on because it is going to require a lot of attention, a lot of insight, a lot of experience and a lot of resources,” Cuomo said.

The governor said the program will “literally need thousands” of people to bring tracing to “a level nobody imagined.” The state has a total of about 500 tracers, with about 200 in New York City and 290 in its downstate counties.

“All those interconnections if you’re gonna do these tracing operations you can’t do it within just your own county because you’ll quickly run into people who are cross-jurisdictional,” he said.

The state will draw on the 35,000 medical students at the State University of New York and the City University of New York, he said.  

New York state documented 474 deaths from the coronavirus on Tuesday. Cuomo said the number of fatalities “seems to be on a gentle decline.”