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Health & Medicine

New York Coronavirus App Could Help Local Contact Tracing Efforts During Surge

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Contact tracers are struggling to keep up with the continuing surge of COVID-19 in the area, but a new app developed by the state may start to help. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon explained the COVID Alert NY app allows people to do some self-reporting, rather than leaving it all to contact tracers.

It will allow people to enter in their contacts and possible exposures into the app,” said McMahon. “By doing this, this helps us with our contact tracing efforts, and it helps us have better turn times.”

Onondaga County set a new record for the number of coronavirus cases in a single day over the weekend. The volume of testing and cases means the health department needs more time to contact potentially infected community members. McMahon said if he could buy more rapid tests, he would. But it’s not that simple.

“I want more rapid testing. If I could buy more rapid tests now, I would. I’d buy millions of dollars of them. That’s not how it works. The county of Onondaga can’t get their own contract,” said McMahon.

“I have talked to New York City about using their buying power. We were going to do that. They called me up, ‘Ryan, I can’t even get these rapid tests now.’ We are trying to get some of these things that make it easier. We have rapid testing machines, Abbott ID NOW machines. We don’t have the kits."

The county will conduct all symptomatic testing out of the F-shed at the regional market and all asymptomatic testing out of the OnCenter. The county continues to work on expanding testing capacity at both locations. Appointment registration for both types of testing is at covid19.ongov.net.