Michael Bloomberg puts up $10 million to develop and implement coronavirus contact tracing program


(JTA) — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will fund a plan to help develop and implement a regional contact tracing program in the effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in hard-hit New York and neighboring states.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement on Wednesday.

Bloomberg will fund the initial plan at a cost of $10 million. The program will be developed in partnership with researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the home of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and be coordinated with the states of New Jersey and Connecticut.

As part of the effort, the Johns Hopkins school will build an online curriculum and training program for contact tracers. Bloomberg Philanthropies also will work with New York state to establish an expert panel to review the work of the program and create a model that other states can use for contact tracing, according to a statement from Cuomo’s office.

“We’re all eager to begin loosening restrictions on our daily lives and our economy,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “But in order to do that as safely as possible, we first have to put in place systems to identify people who may have been exposed to the virus and support them as they isolate.”

Cuomo has extended New York’s shutdown through at least May 15. The state’s death toll has dropped in recent days: On Wednesday there were 438 deaths in New York, down from a high of over 800 a day. A total of nearly 21,000 have died of the coronavirus in New York state.

Forbes reported earlier this week that Bloomberg spent over $1 billion on his three-month presidential campaign that ended on March 4.

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