NCSD Calls on New York State to Support Its Existing Health Department Contact Tracing Workforce
New York – As states prepare to reopen following the COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Cuomo announced $10-million of funding from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to form a tri-state contact tracing effort. In response to this announcement, David C. Harvey, the Executive Director of the National Coalition of STD Contact Tracers (NCSD), issued the following statement applauding the effort and urging New York State to leverage its existing contact tracing workforce.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo has worked quickly to help contain the crisis his state was facing, proving to be the type of leader our country needs. Now as states prepare to reopen, he and former Mayor Bloomberg are working together to invest in the most critical component to ensure our country can reopen safely: contact tracers. The $10-million investment in contact tracing is an important first step to support the critical work of the 100 STD contact tracers already hard at work to fight COVID-19 in New York State,” said David C. Harvey the Executive Director of NCSD.
One hundred Disease Intervention Specialists (DIS), or STD contact tracers, across New York State are already hard at work to help meaningfully bend the curve of COVID-19. For more than half a century, DIS in New York State have helped stem the transmission of HIV and STDs, and have been redeployed to help with contact tracing efforts for diseases including Ebola, Zika and now COVID-19. DIS in Rochester have been working seven days a week since early March to help bend the curve. DIS have worked closely to stem the transmission of diseases in communities hardest hit by infectious diseases like COVID-19 for decades – low-income communities and communities of color.
“As New York State prepares to build its army of contact tracers, it is critical that it continues to lead by example by supporting and investing in the existing expertise of DIS and the state health department to supervise contact tracers around the state. Since 1995, New York has been a critical training center for DIS, and is uniquely positioned to ensure that contact tracers get the training they need to ensure we can safely reopen New York. After all, if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere,” said Harvey.
The NCSD estimates that the 100 DIS in New York State reach 30,000 people a year through contact tracing. NCSD is calling on New York State to increase investment to state health department to ensure a robust and expansive contact tracing effort.
The National Coalition of STD Directors is a national public health membership organization representing health department STD directors, their support staff, and community-based partners across 50 states, seven large cities, and eight US territories. Our mission is to advance effective STD prevention programs and services across the country. NCSD does this as the voice of our membership. We provide leadership, build capacity, convene partners, and advocate. Go to ncsddc.org for more information.