California now has a statewide COVID-19 contact tracing program and public awareness campaign, called California Connected, as announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday.
The program includes 10,000 trained contact tracers who will call and text individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and the people they may have exposed to the disease, as well as radio advertisements, billboards and multilingual videos on how to slow the spread of COVID-19. According to a press release from Newsom’s office, the development of this program is part of the plan to eventually restart the economy and reopen the state.
“We are all eager to get back to work and play, and that’s why we’re asking Californians to answer the call when they see their local public health department reaching out by phone, email or text,” Newsom said in the press release. “That simple action of answering the call could save lives and help keep our families and communities healthy.”
Public health workers will connect Californians with confidential testing, medical services and tips on self-isolation, and contact tracers will not ask for financial information, social security numbers or immigration status, according to the press release.
The California Department of Public Health and the public health departments at UCSF and UCLA will train the contact tracers.
“We are bringing together the best minds in public health, academia and private industry to design a program that can help lower the risk for COVID-19 in all of our communities,” said Sonia Angell, state health officer and director of the state public health department, in the press release.
The California Health Care Foundation, Twitter, Facebook and other foundations and companies contributed a total of $5.1 million to fund the public awareness campaign.