Wolf Administration gives update on COVID-19 contact tracing and testing efforts

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Wolf Administration held a press conference on Tuesday to give an update on COVID-19 contact tracing and testing efforts.

Director of Testing and Contact Tracing, Michael Huff, and Senior Advisor on Contact Tracing for the Department of Health, Lindsey Mauldin, held a virtual press conference to update Pennsylvanians on the state’s continued effort.

Mauldin discussed the progress the state made in 2020, by hiring over 1,000 new contact tracers and promoting some tracers to case investigators.

According to the state update, in 2020 “contact tracers learned that there were needs to support individuals facing hardships with quarantine, things such as supports for food security, housing or even for those facing mental health or substance use disorder needs.”

In addition to the state’s digital case investigation tool, introduced on Dec. 21, case investigators were able to efficiently and effectively contact Pennsylvanians in a more timely manner.

Huff shared insight into the administration’s plan to increase surveillance testing to deal with asymptomatic cases in local communities. Because 40% of COVID-confirmed cases involve asymptomatic individuals, “surveillance testing involves providing easy access to testing for communities, especially those populations who are vulnerable or at higher risk, to increase safety and decrease exposures from both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.”

“Even though the hope is that there will be a COVID-19 vaccine available for most people sometime in this new year, the vaccine does not override the importance of continuing to test for the virus and contain it to stop the spread,” Huff said.

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