Cuomo announces tri-state coronavirus contact tracing effort, Bloomberg to donate $10M

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New York is launching a new coronavirus testing and tracing program in unison with Connecticut and New Jersey, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday. Cuomo said that former New York City Mayor and ex-Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg pledged to donate upward of $10 million to get the effort off the ground.

"Michael Bloomberg will design the program, design the training," he said. "He's going to make a financial contribution, also, put together an organization that can help hire the people because we have to expand this number tenfold and get this all done."

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When forming the contact tracing operation, Cuomo added that the state would be partnering with Vital Strategies and Johns Hopkins, the latter of which Bloomberg provides funding for.

Cuomo said that the effort would “blur governmental lines,” meaning it would be a tri-state effort and could not be contained to just a few separate counties.

“You can’t trace people by one county,” he said. “There can’t be government lines."

Cuomo has emphasized the importance of both diagnostic and antibody testing, as well as contact tracing before opening up the state to non-essential businesses.

Cuomo said the goal of conducting as much contact tracing as possible is to find more positive cases.

“The data comes from testing,” he said. “The hospital will show many people went into a hospital. Testing will tell you how many and where the virus is moving.”

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He said the goal is for New York to up its testing from 20,000 to 40,000 per day, and that decisions regarding when to reopen certain areas of the state would be made based on facts and data.

“I’m not going to make decisions based on pressure,” he said in a press conference on Wednesday. “We can’t make a bad decision.”

The news comes a day after Cuomo visited the White House for a meeting with President Trump about testing and state funding.

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“The big issue is testing,” he said. “And that is the best way to work through this crisis.”

As of Wednesday, New York had over 258,589 cases and at least 19,118 deaths.