New York City partners with Salesforce on coronavirus contact tracing program, mayor says

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Pedestrians pass in front of the Salesforce Tower in New York.

Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

New York City is partnering with Salesforce to build the city’s coronavirus contact tracing program, designed to track down and test everyone who’s come into contact with anyone who tests positive for Covid-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday. 

Salesforce will deploy a call center as well as a customer relationship and case management system that will help the city track potential cases and isolate people before they become sick, he said. The partnership will be “up and running” by the end of May, he said. 

“It will allow us to track every case, analyze the data constantly, keep the right information on each and every case, manage the whole process efficiently,” de Blasio said. “This is going to be a huge effort, just think how it grows and grows over the weeks, but it’s something that if we do right continually will constrain this disease.” 

De Blasio announced that the city is implementing a “test and trace corps” that will be tasked with testing New Yorkers for the infection and tracing all cases and contacts of known positive infections.

The goal is to hire 2,500 public health “foot soldiers” by June, who will be trained using the contact tracing program led by former Mayor Mike Bloomberg in partnership with Johns Hopkins University. There have been nearly 7,000 applications for the program already, de Blasio said. 

A spokesperson for Salesforce confirmed the company’s partnership but didn’t provide any further details.

In late April, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tapped Bloomberg to head the state’s contact tracing program. Bloomberg said his team is developing three smartphone apps to help the state trace every person who comes into contact with someone infected with Covid-19. 

Cuomo has said the state will need to hire at least 30 contact tracers per 100,000 people in order to begin reopening the state’s economy. 

New York City has struggled to ramp up its testing capacity and has relied on social distancing measures to contain the outbreak. De Blasio has said that widespread testing and tracing of people who come into contact with infected individuals will be crucial to easing restrictions and reopening the city. 

Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said that nearly 1 million New York City residents have been exposed to the coronavirus, which is well above the number of confirmed cases.

The city has had to prioritize who gets tested for those who are sick enough to be in the hospital, Barbot said. 

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