Critics say the failure stems from a lack of direction on the part of the Trump administration, which has allowed states to reopen decisions and published contact traceability guidelines weeks after the start of state efforts. This left considerable disparities from state to state in readiness.
“President Trump’s refusal to focus on testing and finding contacts and the general absence of any leadership led to disastrous failures in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement to the POLITICIAN.
Democratic lawmakers are urging the Trump administration to rapidly distribute $ 8 billion to Congress approved weeks ago to strengthen contact tracking programs. While the administration has already released $ 1
The reports of the first lines confirm this.
Jennifer Kertanis, director of the Farmington Valley health district in Canton, Connecticut, told POLITICO that her department received only $ 40,000 in federal aid and that she was told that she should be doing so until next March.
“We’ve already spent practically all that money on equipment to allow staff to work safely from home and in overtime,” he said. “We didn’t have the money to hire anyone. We are training the existing staff we have had and moving the tasks around. We used pen and paper and Excel because we never had the resources to invest. “
Last week, black, Hispanic, and Asian Pacific caucus lawmakers grilled Redfield for lack of federal leadership in finding contacts. He said the CDC is currently reviewing plans developed by states. But several legislators pointed out that states were already using these plans and that the agency’s assistance is too small, too late.
Representative Judy Chu (D-Calif.) Told POLITICO that she found the information “truly disturbing”.
“Are they really leaving states a contact tracking plan? Who will impose a contact tracking plan? ” she said. “As we know, states vary widely in terms of whether they take COVID-19 seriously.”
The CDC has not responded to multiple requests for comment and has not said when the agency will provide feedback on state plans.
Despite ongoing challenges with funding, logistics and federal support, some states have created successful programs.
Hawaii, which is now seeing only a handful of new infections, has increased contact tracking staff in the past month from around 80 to over 300 – and over 1,400 have signed up to be trained if necessary.
Governor David Ige told POLITICO that the state, learning from past epidemics, including SARS, has so far been able to track down all positive cases and that the vast majority of people have been willing to share information about their contacts.
“People don’t want to get sick of their friends and neighbors,” he said.
Oregon also has a solid program that is currently contacting over 90% of new infections within 24 hours.
But elsewhere, officials are still putting their tracing programs together months after home stay orders have been revoked – and are training new hires as spikes that threaten to overwhelm local health systems. Those states that have hired hundreds or thousands of people also struggled to find new infections quickly and get useful information.
In New York City, which opened restaurants on Monday, contact detectors received phone numbers for about 85 percent of newly infected people last week, but less than half of them provided information about their recent contacts.
New Jersey, one of the hardest hit states, has brought hardly any new contact planners since the start of the pandemic. The state is around 900 years old and needs between 2,500 and 4,000, Democrat Phil Murphy said Wednesday. The state digital platform to track the program is running in only two counties, so there is no state-level data on the success achieved by the program so far.
Houston, the latest epicenter, is still working to hire and train 150 contact tracers by July 1st.