Coronavirus contact tracing programs across the U.S. scaled back their ambitions as cases surged in winter, but New York City has leaned into its $600 million tracing initiative.
The city hired more tracers during the holiday season surge and in early March hit its goal of reaching at least 90% of people who test positive, a mark it hadn’t reached since around Thanksgiving. Last week, the number hit 96%.
Overwhelmed tracing programs elsewhere confronted the wave by switching to automated calls, limiting the types of cases they trace or telling infected people simply to reach out to their contacts themselves.
There’s some debate among public health experts over whether local governments should cut back on contact tracing and focus more on vaccination. However, contact tracing follow-up could help answer whether vaccinated people can transmit the virus.