Local COVID contact tracing now optional in New York

Local News

FiILE — In this Aug. 6. 2020, file photo, Joseph Ortiz, a contact tracer with New York City’s Health + Hospitals battling the coronavirus pandemic, disinfects his tablet after leaving a potential patient’s home in New York. 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. (AP Photo/John Minchillo. File)

ALBANY, N.Y. — State health officials say New York will no longer require local health departments to conduct contact tracing for people who test positive for COVID-19.

Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said Tuesday the shift will help public health staff across New York focus on testing and vaccination.

Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul added that the spike in COVID-19 cases complicates contact tracing.

The tracing involves calling those who test positive to identify exposed people. She said counties can now decide whether they want to trace people.

Hochul’s proposed regulation to mandate boosters for health care workers was also approved by a state health council Tuesday.

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