Cuomo, Bloomberg say New York contact tracing program will create ‘playbook’ for other localities and countries
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was joined remotely by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday as Cuomo described efforts to develop and implement a comprehensive coronavirus contact tracing program in the Empire State.
Such a program, Cuomo said in his daily briefing, will “require, under any estimate, a tracing army to come up to scale very quickly,” which he said will be a vital part of any state efforts to reopen businesses and institutions.
Bloomberg, joining the briefing through a video link, described a contact tracing system as “one of the most important steps we need to take,” adding “when social distancing is relaxed, contact tracing is our best hope for isolating the virus when it appears and keeping it isolated.”
Bloomberg said his philanthropic foundation will develop the system in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, “the best public health school in the world,” as well as the organizations Vital Strategies and Resolve to Save Lives.
The former mayor said the City University of New York and State University of New York will help identify potential applicants for contact tracing jobs and that Johns Hopkins has developed an online training class that will conclude with a mandatory test.
“We’re not going to put up people there that don’t know what they’re doing,” he added.
Bloomberg also noted that the program will help develop a broader “playbook” for contact tracing through its efforts, saying “we will release that playbook publicly so cities and states around the country can use it and scan nations around the world. That way the work we do here in New York really can help fight the virus globally.”
Cuomo expressed a similar sentiment, saying of the state: “In many cases we’ve dealt with challenges first; we figure it out and then we work with other places to actually learn from what we’ve done.”
“I think this is going to be one of those examples,” he added. “It will also be a laboratory to put together the best system ever put together so we can share that with other governments, and that’s what Mayor Bloomberg does so well.”