The latest batch of funds comes while states move to reopen — even as the pandemic continues to bring more than 20,000 daily new cases across the United States. The CDC expects to distribute the money by May 23, with local governments also able to use the dollars to purchase and analyze COVID-19 tests.
The federal government and health experts agree that contact tracing, the public health practice of tracking who sick patients could have potentially infected, will be critical in the effort to keep the coronavirus at bay as the economy reopens. Countries like South Korea aggressively tracked cases to successfully beat back the virus.
New York City, the nation’s outbreak epicenter, will get the single largest allotment of the funds, but the money will come in midst of a municipal tug-of-war over who should spend it.
Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to hire 2,500 workers for the city’s tracing program by early June, he’s said.
To administer the unprecedented program, he’s stripped his Health Department of its tracing responsibilities and instead placed NYC Health + Hospitals in charge — a move that has caused a major rift in his administration.
“So, it’s led by Health + Hospitals because they are a huge operational entity with all of the strengths that go with being a huge operational entity,” de Blasio said during his daily press briefing Friday.
“They are also an independent agency, which allows them to do a lot of things, contracts and other things much faster than a mayoral agency.”
Some elected officials have complained that the mayor’s micromanaging of the city’s coronavirus response has prevented city health officials who already have the staff and experience to contain infectious disease from doing their jobs.
New York state will receive an additional $746,816 million for contact tracing from the CDC.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, has criticized the federal government for not creating national tracing guidelines.
“Tracing — what’s the right number of tracers? And let’s nationalize the protocol, what does tracing mean, nationalize the training, and then let the states execute by those national standards,” he said during an appearance on MSNBC Thursday night.
“That’s what the federal government could have done; they didn’t do it.”