Coronavirus News: Newark details COVID-19 contact tracing program

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Newark on Thursday detailed its new contact tracing program as New Jersey's largest city looks to stop the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

Nearly 300 volunteers have been trained by Mayor Ras Baraka's Contact Tracing Task Force to telephone residents suffering from the virus and their families to investigate with whom they had contact, both before and after becoming infected.

The program will enable the city to develop databases to slow the spread of the virus, protect the most vulnerable populations, monitor difficult to track populations, and clear frontline workers for continued work.

The data tracing will also help Newark develop strategies on how, when and where to reopen businesses and begin its economic recovery.

The Newark Contact Tracing Task Force is led by Newark Alliance CEO Aisha Glover and will utilize methods used by medical scientists for almost 50 years to both understand and potentially inhibit the spread of infectious disease.

The city's strategic alliance with Partners In Health, a global public health organization that has led contact tracing efforts to battle Ebola and H1N1 viruses, will play a critical role.

Experts say the first global use helped eradicate smallpox in 1977 and has since been used to identify the source and spread of recent communicable diseases such as HIV, Ebola and SARS.

Through contact tracing, it is believed that pandemics can eventually be brought under control.

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