N.Y. Building Virus ‘Tracing Army’ in Preparation for Reopening

New York is building a “tracing army” to track the origin of individual coronavirus cases and reduce the spread, so the state can focus on reopening, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Cuomo on Wednesday reported an additional 474 fatalities, for a total of 15,302. The one-day increase was the lowest in three weeks as Covid-19 hospitalizations continue to decline and other data show signs of progress battling the outbreak.

“It’s better to be going down than to be going up,” he said at his daily virus briefing, adding that “we’re in a relatively good place.”

Cuomo announced plans to work with Connecticut and New Jersey to ramp up contact tracing. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg volunteered to help the state implement its tracing program, Cuomo said, and will donate $10 million to the effort. The program will be done in partnership with Johns Hopkins University and Vital Strategies, a public health organization, the governor said.

39,460 in U.S.Most new cases today

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“You don’t have months to plan and do this,” Cuomo said, “You have weeks to get this up and running.”

Michael Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

The state has about 500 tracers and will add thousands more, working with state and city universities to draft medical students, Cuomo said. The efforts will be coordinated between the state and municipalities. New York City and other localities also will be hiring their own independent people, Cuomo said.

At the same time, the state is working to increase its ability to test for Covid-19. Cuomo met with President Donald Trump and White House staff on Tuesday, and they agreed to help New York double capacity to 40,000 tests per day, Cuomo said.

The state also is ramping up its antibody testing.

Data will show how fast the infection is spreading in parts of New York, which will inform the region-by-region reopenings, Cuomo said. “To the extent you can, when you find a positive person, trace it back and isolate.”

New York reported an additional 5,526 cases, for a total of 257,216. Downstate New York is now on the descent of the curve. “The question now is how long is that descent,” Cuomo said.

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