HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. – Suffolk County Legislature staff members are joining New York State’s army of contact tracers as the Long Island region enters the first phase of reopening after the COVID-19 shutdown.
Under New York State guidelines for Long Island to begin reopening, both Suffolk and Nassau counties were required to have 30 tracers for every 100,000 residents, depending on the infection rate. With encouragement from Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer Rob Calarco, a couple dozen legislative employees in Suffolk have heeded the call to be trained as contact tracers to help the region meet the metrics required to enter the first phase of the state’s reopening plan.
“Contact tracers will play a critical role in preventing a resurgence of COVID-19 and helping our region reopen safely and responsibly. We have seen how quickly the virus can spread, so every case we contain will have a huge impact as we move forward,” said Presiding Officer Calarco. “I thank my staff and our legislative employees for helping in this effort to ensure our region meets the criteria necessary to protect public health as businesses begin to reopen. It is a testament to their commitment to public service.”
“Contact tracers will be key to protecting the public during the phased in approach to reopening businesses across Suffolk County,” added Deputy Presiding Officer Kara Hahn. “At the apex of reopening, we need all hands on deck to be trained as contact tracers. I commend the Presiding Officer on his efforts and am encouraged by the response of our legislative staff to become trained as contact tracers.”
Contact tracers help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by identifying people who may have been exposed. Working remotely with state and local health departments, contact tracers call patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and help them determine whom they were in close contact with when they were infectious. The tracer then reaches out to those contacts to notify them of their exposure, help them isolate or quarantine, and connect them with social support services such as arrangements for food or medication delivery.
“Contact tracers will be absolutely essential if we are to safely reopen our economy responsibly as well as protect our most vulnerable citizens,” said 18th District Legislator Dr. William Spencer.
“Having a sufficient number of contact tracers is a key component of the metrics we must achieve so that we can reopen our region,” added 2nd District Legislator Bridget Fleming, whose staff has volunteered to be trained as tracers. “My legislative staff is joining the New York State-led efforts and being trained as contact tracers in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our community. I believe that public servants at every level of government should step in to assist especially during this public health crisis.”
“Our office has been doing all we can to help our constituents during this difficult time,” said 16th District Legislator Susan A. Berland, whose staff has also volunteered to be trained as tracers. “Our staff members have now become certified contact tracers to further assist our county in the fight against the coronavirus as we enter the first phase of reopening our local economy.”
Presiding Officer Calarco added, “Government work at its core is about serving the public, and this is just one of many ways county employees are pitching in to help their communities navigate this crisis. Legislators and their staff can also be found distributing face coverings, holding food drives, celebrating our healthcare heroes, fielding calls at the Suffolk 311 Call Center, and supporting the Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services Department in its response efforts. I am proud of my colleagues and our legislative employees for stepping up in our county’s time of need.”