NEW YORK (AP) – New York City’s efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus through contact tracking have been affected by the reluctance of many people who are infected with the virus to provide information to trackers, from according to a report published in The New York Times.
The Times report noted that just 35% of the 5,347 city residents who tested positive for the virus or are believed to have tested positive in the first two weeks of the contact tracking program gave information about their close contacts.
Perry N. Halkitis, dean of Rutgers University School of Public Health, said the 35% rate of contact pickup was « pretty bad. »
« For every person, you should be in touch with 75% of their contacts within a day, » Halkitis told the Times.
Physician Ted Long, director of New York City’s new Test and Tracking Bodies, defended the program on Sunday and said 69% of people who complete an interview provide contacts. « We think it is a good start, but we also want to increase that number, » he told The Associated Press.
Long said the 35% figure cited by the Times represents a percentage of all people who hit the trackers, and some of those people, including those who did not develop symptoms of COVID-19 for weeks, have no relevant contacts to provide.
He believes the program, which started on June 1, will be more successful when trackers start coming to people’s homes in the next week or two, rather than relying on the phone.