New York City is ending its universal COVID-19 contact tracing program next month, the latest sign that the pandemic is waning as the recovery continues. Wednesday’s confirmation comes nearly two years to the day, the day the city reported its first case.
Officials say the health department will continue to contact known positives and conduct tracing efforts, but the current universal program, as it stands, is set to end on April 30. Testing and follow-up are still funded throughout the fiscal year.
In a statement, outgoing NYC Chief Health Officer Dr. Dave Chokshi said the decision was based on new CDC recommendations that reduce contact tracing efforts. Falling case numbers, high vaccination rates and new treatments have also helped.
“As we enter a new phase of the pandemic, we must adapt our public health interventions, while continuing to provide resources to New Yorkers,” Chokshi said.
“The NYC Department of Health will continue contact tracing in high-risk gathering places and will help the Test & Trace Corps connect New Yorkers to the resources they need to quickly identify if they have COVID- 19 and isolate themselves safely if they test positive,” he added.
The city launched its universal contact tracing program in June 2020, following the initial wave of COVID, and has remained committed to what appears to have been the biggest effort among U.S. cities, even after other localities were scaled back.