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Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg helping to lead the way for ‘tracing army’ in NYS

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — On Thursday, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is helping to lead the way for training the ‘tracing army’ that is needed to help find those people who have tested positive for coronavirus, and those that they may have come in contact with.

Right now, Cuomo says that “trace-test-isolate” remains the key to controlling coronavirus. About 30,000 tests are being performed daily, but they would like to ramp that up to 40,000 tests a day.

Since testing is ramping up, tracing needs to ramp up too, and that’s where Bloomberg is coming in to play. New York State is in need of contact tracers, who trace those who test positive for coronavirus. The tracers will speak with the people who test positive to find out where they have been, who they have been in contact with, and then isolate those people to try to reduce the spread of the infection. The image below shows the four steps in contract tracing.

On Wednesday, 4,681 people tested positive for coronavirus.

“How do you trace back that many people? And contact the people they had contact with?” Cuomo asked. “That is an overwhelming task.”

This is where Bloomberg comes in. He has taken the lead in this testing-tracing-isolating program.

“On a scale that has never been done before, and by the way, we need it tomorrow,” Cuomo said. “We are literally doing it right now.”

The CDC recommends that there are 30 tracers for every 100,000 people. That means in New York State, anywhere from 6,400 to 17,000 tracers could be needed. Bloomberg, along with Johns Hopkins University, will carry out the recruiting and interviewing of tracers. Johns Hopkins University and the New York State Department of Health will develop an online system that will train these tracers. It will include a training class that will over the basics of training and epidemics, and the user will have to pass a test at the end.

There will also be a handbook that will be released publically, Bloomberg said, so that others can learn.

“We’ll learn as we go and make adjustments as we go on,” Bloomberg said.

Another issue that Cuomo addressed on Thursday was the transportation system in New York City. During the hours of 1 to 5 a.m., beginning next week, the New York City subway system will be closed for cleaning. This will ensure that every train gets cleaned every day. 

“It’s a massive undertaking that we’ve never done before,” Cuomo said.

Since there are only about 10,000 riders during this time, the majority of who are essential and frontline workers,  Cuomo also announced the Essential Connector Program. During the hours when the subways are closed for cleaning, essential and frontline workers who need a ride to work will be able to use buses, for-hire vehicles and “dollar vans” at no cost.

“We need our essential workers to go to work,” Cuomo said. “We honor our essential workers by our actions.”

“This will require a lot of extraordinary effort by all, a lot of assistance” from different agencies, like the MTA, New York City, New York State, and the NYPD, Cuomo said. “We’ll do our part, we’ll all work together.

“This is probably the proudest moment we’ve had as public servants,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said about New Yorkers stepping up to help. “We owe it to them to be safe on the way to work, on the way back home to their families.”

Click the player below to watch the briefing:

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