States scramble to contain Covid spikes without enough workers to track outbreaks

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States scramble to contain Covid spikes without enough workers to track outbreaks

Critics say the failure is due to a lack of instructions from the Trump administration, which has left the reopening decisions to the states and published guidelines on contact tracking weeks after state efforts began. This leads to considerable differences in the willingness from state to state.

“President Trump’s refusal to focus on testing and contact tracking, and the general lack of leadership, led to catastrophic failures in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Senate Minority President Chuck Schumer said in a statement to POLITICO .

Democratic legislature push the Trump administration Weekly approved $ 8 billion quickly distributed to strengthen contact tracking programs. While the government has already released $ 11 billion for government testing and traceability, Democrats say that further delay in the remaining funds has insufficiently prepared states to deal with new infection spikes.

Reports from the front confirm this.

Jennifer Kertanis, director of the Farmington Valley Health District in Canton, Connecticut, told POLITICO that her department had only received $ 40,000 in federal aid and that it had to do this by March next.

“We have already spent all the money on equipment so that employees can work safely from home and overtime,” she said. “We didn’t have the money to hire someone. We trained the existing staff that we had and mixed the tasks. We used pen, paper and Excel spreadsheets because we never had the resources to invest. “

Legislators in the Black, Hispanic, and Asia Pacific-American assemblies harassed Redfield last week over the lack of federal leadership in contact tracking. He said the CDC is currently reviewing developed countries. However, several legislators indicated that states are already using these plans and that agency support is too little and too late.

MP Judy Chu (D-Calif.) Told POLITICO that she found the information “really worrying”.

“Are you really leaving it up to the states to have a contact tracer plan? Who will enforce a contact tracer plan? ” She said. “As we know, countries differ a lot in whether they take COVID-19 seriously.”

The CDC did not respond to multiple requests for comments and did not say when the agency would provide feedback on the states’ plans.

Despite ongoing challenges in terms of funding, logistics and federal support, some countries have successfully launched programs.

Hawaii, which now sees only one A handful of new infections have increased contact tracking staff from around 80 to over 300 in the past month – and more than 1,400 have signed up for the training as needed.

Governor David Ige told POLITICO that the state, which had learned from previous outbreaks including SARS, has so far been able to pursue any positive case and that the vast majority of people are willing to share information about their contacts.

“People don’t want to make their friends and neighbors sick,” he said.

Oregon also has a robust program that is currently being contacted more than 90 percent of new infections within 24 hours.

But elsewhere, officials are still putting their tracing programs home for months after the orders have been lifted – and training new staff as spikes threaten to overwhelm local health systems. Even the states that have hired hundreds or thousands of people have trouble finding new infections quickly and getting useful information.

In New York City, which opened restaurants on Monday, contact tracers received phone numbers for about 85 percent of newly infected people last week, but less than half of those people reported information about their recent contacts.

New Jersey, one of the hardest hit states, has seen almost no new contact tracers since the pandemic began. The state has about 900 and needs somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000, democratic governor Phil Murphy said on Wednesday. The state’s digital platform for tracking the program only runs in two counties. As a result, no nationwide data is yet available on how successful the program has been.

Houston, the newest epicenter, is still working to hire and train 150 contact tracers by July 1.

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