Accelerating COVID-19 Contact Tracing Efforts

As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on, the importance of contact tracing becomes even more undeniable. Veoci hosted a webinar alongside the City of New Haven Public Health Department to discuss how they’re using contact tracing to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.

This webinar was originally recorded on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. Details of this implementation may have changed since the recording. If you’d like to see the recording of the webinar, click here.

Starting from the Beginning

Maritza Bond, the Director of Public Health for the City of New Haven, opened the webinar by discussing how everything had started for New Haven. They have been responding to this pandemic since early January when a Yale related visitor from China had to be quarantined.

Bond said the department prioritized identifying every possible case, isolating, and quarantining. They focused on contact tracing and ramping up testing in New Haven in order to achieve their goals. This required the formation of a new protocol as the program unfolded.

Contact Tracing Procedures

Brian Weeks, Epidemiologist for the City of New Haven Department of Public Health Department spoke on the new procedures that Bond hinted at. Weeks discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation. His goal, and the goal of the health department, is to box in the pandemic using testing, isolation, and quarantining. At the time of writing, the US has surpassed 115,000 COVID-19 related deaths.

Contact tracing is at the heart of this mission. It mitigates  the effects of exposure, which has a downstream effect. The steps involved with contact tracing include identifying and interviewing individuals with SARS CoV2, isolating the infected individuals, warning contacts of their exposure, and linking symptomatic people to testing and care.

In order to accomplish these necessary goals, the City of New Haven needed a platform that had rapid deployment and implementation, was highly secure, could capture and track pertinent data collected, and could embed the script, actions, and questions all in one place for ease of use for interviewers and volunteers.

The platform also needed to have a live survey that could be easily edited to match CDC guidelines, and to assess results in real time for quality assurance. New Haven found what they were looking for in a local software company called Veoci.

The Solution

Nathaniel Ellis, Co-founder and Director of Strategic Solutions at Veoci,  then demoed the contact tracing solution that Bond and Weeks discussed during their presentations. He started by displaying the pandemic call center Dashboard which displays metrics in tables, charts, and even on a map based on location. Data can be configured in various ways (i.e. by location or volume), so a Dashboard can be tailored to show the data your organization needs to see.

The contact tracing solution consists of a single Form that volunteers can access. This Form functions like a script for interviewers and tracers can work from, which eases the subjects into remembering the recent contacts and helping the City isolate possible new cases. It also collects information about symptoms, pre-existing conditions, and demographics.

Spreadsheets can be uploaded into the system for ease of use, ensuring historical data makes it into the new solution. Phone numbers and addresses are validated to ensure the data is correct. If a case is given a high priority status, they are marked and secondary notifications are sent out to them. The system is also incredibly secure for highly sensitive information; you can read more about security here.

Looking Towards the Future

As COVID-19 progresses, it is becoming increasingly important for towns and cities to establish contact tracing programs they can trust. Having the right software can make all the difference in the success and security of your contact tracing program. For more information on how to track COVID-19 cases and trace contacts, read here.

Each of the presenters went into more detail in the webinar. If you’d like to watch the webinar, you can find the recording here.

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