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Outcomes of New York City’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing Program

November 16, 2022

During the COVID-19 pandemic, contact tracing has served as an important tool in controlling and tracking the spread of the virus. Especially when there was limited information or other preventative measures such as vaccines, it was regarded as one of the best ways to protect the population with the resources available. Contact tracing still is a core strategy for preventing the spread of many infectious diseases of public health concern.

In New York City, Trace served as a pillar within the Test & Treat Corps (then called the Test & Trace Corps) from June 2020 to April 2022, and in the early stages of the pandemic, its contact tracers played a pivotal role in assuring New Yorkers that steps were being taken to mitigate new infections.

In a cross-sectional study that included people with laboratory test–confirmed and probable COVID-19 and their contacts in the city between June 1, 2020, and October 31, 2021, the establishment, scaling, and maintenance of Trace were observed to determine the outcomes of NYC’s COVID-19 contact tracing program.

In a paper recently published in JAMA Network Open, Kathleen Blaney who served as Trace’s clinical director, as well as other colleagues, explore these outcomes.

Read more about the study here: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2798102

Key points:

  • NYC launched a citywide contact tracing operation as part of a new program called the Test & Trace Corps on June 1, 2020, when the 7-day daily average of new confirmed cases was 620.
  • From June 1, 2020, to October 31, 2021, 941,035 case investigations were attempted on people with probable and confirmed COVID-19 and symptomatic contacts. Of these, 840,922 (89.4%) were reached and 711,379 (75.6%) completed case investigations.
  • Tracers working in the program completed case investigations on over 75% of cases and symptomatic contacts compared with 59% of confirmed cases in a cross-sectional study of contact tracing in other U.S. jurisdictions.
  • Trace completed case investigations for nearly half of all cases within 24 hours of referral and was able to offer over 1 million cases and contacts access to resources to support isolation and quarantine during their recommended quarantine periods.

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