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Press Releases

NYC Test & Trace Corps Texts Over 700,000 People in Response to Omicron Surge and Launches Exposure Guidance Tool

Text message outreach and Exposure Guidance Tool will quickly connect those exposed to COVID-19 to appropriate quarantine guidance and critical healthcare resources

Feb 02, 2022

New York, NY

The NYC Test & Trace Corps announced today that the Trace program texted over 700,000 cases and close contacts in response to the Omicron surge and launched an Exposure Guidance Tool to quickly connect those exposed with critical healthcare and quarantine resources.
“Omicron provided the impetus to innovate—we now text cases so that they can rapidly isolate as soon as we get their positive result, and text close contacts to let them know that they were exposed as soon as we identify them,” said Dr. Ted Long, Executive Director of the NYC Test & Trace Corps and Senior Vice President for Ambulatory Care and Population Health at NYC Health + Hospitals. “The launch of our Exposure Guidance Tool will help New Yorkers exposed to COVID-19 to more easily navigate quarantine guidance and provide resources tailored to their specific needs. As we enter a new phase of this pandemic, these innovations will empower New Yorkers to steer themselves towards the information and resources they need to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”
The Trace program began texting close contacts of COVID-19 in mid-December to ensure the largest number of people could be notified of their status and access services during the Omicron surge, which caused a 960% increase in new cases between November and December 2021. Soon after, Trace expanded text outreach to cases to ensure that they were linked to healthcare and isolation resources as quickly as possible.
Text messages, which now account for over 35% of case and all contact notifications, enabled the Trace program to keep up with demand during the Omicron surge and reach more cases and contacts than any other period of the pandemic. Within the first week sending text messages, Trace notified over 200,000 cases and, in late December, Trace notified more than 120,000 close contacts.
Since text outreach to cases and close contacts began, Trace has sent 725,000 texts, over 90% of which were successfully delivered. Of those texts attempted, 430,000 were sent to cases and 295,000 were sent to close contacts.
The launch of the Exposure Guidance Tool will provide a mechanism for New Yorkers to navigate complex quarantine guidance based on their date of exposure, symptoms and vaccination status. After answering three or four questions, close contacts will be directed to the Test & Trace Corps COVID-19 Resources page to be connected to the support they need. Those resources include testing, a free hotel room or meal delivery to separate safely, COVID-related employment leave and quarantine letters for employers, vaccination and boosters, medical care and treatment, mental health services, and legal assistance.
If you need immediate assistance, please call the NYC Test & Trace Corps COVID Hotline at 212-COVID19.