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Contact tracing the key to safely reopening Kentucky's economy, Beshear says

A statewide effort will be launched to gather information about contacts from newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients to help combat the spread of the virus.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) – Gov. Andy Beshear says contact tracing will be the key to a safe reopening of Kentucky’s economy.

The governor says the Department of Public Health will work with a consulting company to launch a statewide effort to gather information about contacts from newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients.

He says health officials will then notify them of their potential exposure and advise them of precautions they can take to protect their health and the health of those who are around them.

“This effort will help to best document COVID-positive Kentuckians and quickly track those who may have been in close contact with them so they can take the appropriate steps to prevent any further spread of the virus,” Beshear said during his Monday briefing.

Contract tracing, made possible with funding from the CARES Act, is expanding to meet the federal government’s and governor’s benchmarks to safely reopening the economy.

Mark Carter, who was recently hired as an executive adviser to lead contract tracing efforts, says the tool was used to eradicate smallpox and is used in present day to contain tuberculosis and other infections.

“We must reopen the economy, but we have to protect our children, our families and friends from another outbreak of COVID-19, and we do that through contact tracing,” Carter said.

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The expanded 7-month program will combine public participation and technology to help public health officials and health care providers contain the spread of the virus.

Carter says information provided is kept private and confidential. Information pertaining to individuals testing positive for COVID-19 and those who they have made in-person contact with they say will not be released or made public.

Dr. Steven Stack says nearly 700 people will be hired to help gather information.

“Contact tracing is the way we get back to as much as possible what normal used to be like. Contact tracing is the way we act very quickly to localize infection to keep it from spreading and enable us to get back to interacting with each other as much as we can.”

Officials are also expected to release more communications materials including posters, PSA’s and social media campaigns to help Kentuckians better understand contact tracing.

If you want to know more about contract tracing, click here for a video.

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