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NYC will soon start a massive program to trace the contacts of people with coronavirus.

This will impact NYers in profound and personal ways. It raises a huge number of questions--about privacy, enforcement, equity and much more.

Here are some answers. 1/
Will everyone who tests positive in NYC need to talk to a contact tracer?
* Yes, that’s how this works 2/
So I’ll have to tell them everyone I’ve been in contact with? Even walked by in the street? How far back in time?
* Tracers will only focus on sustained contacts--say 15 minutes or more. Ideally they will look back 14 days, which is the incubation time of the virus. 3/
If I have the virus, will tracers tell all my contacts that I’m the one who may have infected them?
* Definitely not. Tracers will only say that they came in contact with someone, but not identify who. 4/
What if I can’t remember or don’t know people I was in contact with?
* In past outbreaks (e.g. Hepatitis A), NYC has looked at credit card spending data to find people who were, say, in a restaurant with a sick employee. Unclear if this will be done for coronavirus. 5/
Will NYC ask people to download an app to their cell phones to help trace contacts?
* Maybe, but not likely. There are too many questions about accuracy and public concerns about privacy. 6/
South Korea has used closed-circuit camera footage and social media posts to help trace contacts, will this be done here?
* Probably not, but no announcement has been made on this yet. 7/
If i’m told I’ve been exposed, will I *have* to quarantine for 14 days??
* Yes. There’s a debate about whether this will be legally mandated or not, and how it would be enforced. But either way, you really need to quarantine. That’s the only way we can stop the spread. 8/
If I have to quarantine, and shouldn’t leave my home, how will I get food?
* The City will have to ensure you have food, and if necessary deliver all meals to you. Same for prescriptions, laundry, and even dog walking. This only works if people really stay home. 9/
If contact tracers identify someone who may have been exposed, but that person has had a positive antibody test or a confirmed past COVID case, will they still be required to quarantine?
* Probably not, but that question hasn’t been settled yet. 10/
What if a sick person had contact with people who live outside of NYC? What if a sick person outside of NYC has contact with someone in the city?
* NY State is working on a system to share this information between jurisdictions. 11/
Don’t we need a ton of testing for this to work? Do we have enough?
* Not yet. Ultimately we probably need at least 100k tests/day. We are under 15k/day in NYC now, so long way to go. We need fed help to get there. (U.S. still isn’t producing enough reagents!) 12/
What rate of participation in contact tracing do we need for this to be effective?
* Very high, like 70% to 90%. That’s why you really need to participate if you are sick or have been exposed. 13/
This sounds like a lot of work, how many people will be needed to do it?
* For the whole testing, tracing, quarantining program, including all wrap-around services, as much as 15k staff. This will be NYC’s “Public Health Corps”. Great opportunity to serve for many NYers! 14/
What role will community groups have in all this?
* They should have a very significant role. Local non-profits should be contracted to help plan and deliver this program. They are on the ground with cultural competency, language skills, and trust of the community. 15/
When will contact tracing start in NYC?
* Soon. Hopefully very soon, maybe even in the next week or so. But we still have too many news cases in NYC for us to track everyone. We need to get that # down to at most 1000/day. (right now we are probably more than double that). 16/
To recap: Contact tracing is a huge deal, and will require an unusual degree of involvement by public health workers in our lives. But this is the path to reopening our economy. We can do this in a way that respects privacy and is also effective. There’s no other choice. 17/17
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