Florida Rep. Calls State’s Contact Tracing Program ‘A Joke’

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July 7, 2020 10:38 a.m.

Florida State Rep. Shevrin Jones (D) criticized the state’s contact tracing initiative on Tuesday, calling his own recent experience with a call from a tracer “a joke.” 

Jones told CNN’s John Berman that he received a call from a contract tracer last Thursday who appeared to be reading from a questionnaire. 

“There was no question that she was asking that would have led her to the point of who I had probably come in contact with,” Jones said.

The Florida lawmaker had already slammed the tracing system in tweets on Monday, saying it was “understaffed” and calling for an overhaul.

The state lawmaker said that he was not able to identify where he had been exposed to the coronavirus but regretted that he had “gotten lax and started back shaking hands.” 

The Florida Department of Health has roughly 1,600 students, epidemiologists and other staff conducting tracing, with plans to bring on 600 more for a total of 2,200. That is only about a third of the roughly 6,400 tracers needed to meet the recommended 30 tracers per 100,000 people standard set by the National Association of County and City Health Officials, The New York Times reported.

Those tracers are especially important as Florida breaks daily infection records. Just on Saturday the Department of Health reported a record more than 11,400 new infections. The number of infections threatens to overwhelm the existing system for tracing contacts.

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