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Georgia to add 1,000 staff, new online tool to boost contact tracing
Gov. Brian Kemp
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a press conference on Wednesday, April 8, 2020.

The Georgia Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that it plans to add 1,000 staff members to expand contact tracing for COVID-19, along with a new online tool to help the effort.

The online tool, developed by Google/MTX and called the Healthy Georgia Collaborative, allows Georgians who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to identify everyone they have had close contact with while they may have been infected and inform them of their potential exposure. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, contact tracing is considered a crucial part of preventing the spread of COVID-19, which has infected over 34,700 people and killed 1,465 in Georgia, according to the DPH.

The state is urging residents who test positive for COVID-19 to log their case in the Healthy Georgia Collaborative, which will then prompt DPH staff to contact that individual. Staff will work with the individual to identify those they were in close contact with while infected. 

Those contacts will be interviewed by DPH staff and encouraged to stay home and maintain social distance “until 14 days after their last exposure,” according to the CDC.

During an afternoon press briefing, Gov. Brian Kemp urged Georgians to participate in the contact tracing program.

“We need your help to defeat this virus,” Kemp said. “Together, we can continue to take measured steps forward.”

The DPH says it currently has about 250 contact tracers throughout the state that have contacted more than 3,800 individuals testing positive for COVID-19 and identified nearly 13,000 contacts.

The agency hopes to train the additional 1,000 contact tracers in the coming weeks, it said.

The agency emphasized that the program is “100% confidential” and doesn’t track an individual’s movement.