State launching online tracking system for COVID-19 contact tracing

Kentucky’s state government will be hiring 700 individuals to do COVID-19 contact tracing. After someone tests positive, one of these contact tracers will talk with the individual to get basic information about them and get a list of people they have recently been in contact with. Following that, the people on the list will continue to be contacted over a 14-day period and may be asked to self-isolate in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Gov. Andy Beshear says the system will take privacy very seriously and will take steps to protect the personal information of all individuals.

Beshear told Kentuckians they need to answer the call from these contact tracers because the system will not work if people do not participate.

A video shown at the Monday press conference stated once someone tests positive, they will be contacted to gather background information on that individual and a list of their close contacts over a certain time frame. Those individuals will then be contacted but it will not be disclosed who they were in contact with that tested positive. The person will need to provide “basic health information” and depending on the proximity, length of time, and various other factors, the person who had been in contact with the positive patient will be asked to either self-isolate or monitor their symptoms over the next 14 days. Following that time period, the individual will get an automatic return to work email clearing them from that contact.

Multiple contracts have already been awarded for companies to help run the new tracking system and the 700 new contact tracers will be trained over the next two weeks, Beshear said. The program is funded through federal funding through the CARES Act and the governor said he expects it to cost more that $100 million.

Beshear has appointed Mark Carter to the program, which is currently slated to run for seven months.  Carter is the former CEO of Passport Health who was partner for 20 years with Ernst & Young, a founding partner of accounting firm BKD’s Louisville office, and a director with Dean Dorton.

Both Beshear and Carter stressed the importance of the public’s health in making this system work and asked Kentuckians to “answer the call” when contacted about potential exposure to help prevent the spread of the virus.

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