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Letter to the Hon. Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida - As DeSantis Hints At Moving South Florida To Phase Two, Mucarsel-Powell Leads Bipartisan Group Of Local Officials In Calling For Increased Contact Tracing

Letter

Date: Aug. 20, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

Dear Governor DeSantis:

As federal, state, and local leaders in South Florida, we write to you today to inquire upon the status of Florida's contact tracing workforce. As we await the results of Phase Three trials of multiple vaccine candidates, the most effective tool to combat the spread of the coronavirus is widespread, rapid testing and extensive contact tracing.

As you know, the state of Florida has received over $492 million in federal funding for testing and tracing efforts. According to public health experts from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), given the current level of spread of the coronavirus in our community, Florida will need at least 35,000 contact tracers. Miami-Dade County alone requires over 9,700 contact tracers to contain the spread, but the latest estimates indicate that the county has hired 350. Additionally, Monroe County needs over 110 contact tracers, based on the current case counts. These numbers are directly tied to the prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities, with greater community spread necessitating more tracers - yet another reason to put in place the measures to get community spread under control.

Contact tracing is a thorough process that requires each tracer to spend significant time speaking with each confirmed case, subsequent calls with each case's contact, and regular follow-up with every confirmed case and those who were potentially exposed. Through robust contact tracing, we can properly identify and comfortably quarantine those who have been exposed to the virus, breaking lines of transmission and slowing the spread of this deadly disease.

Contact tracing also plays a key economic role. With effective contact tracing, localities know which areas and industries are contributing to the spread of the virus and can target interventions and mitigation strategies more precisely. However, without this knowledge, broader and more economically devastating options are necessitated.

The letter is signed by: U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Mayor Heather Carruthers (Monroe County), Mayor Steven Losner (City of Homestead), Mayor Otis Wallace (City of Florida City), Mayor Teri Johnston (City of Key West), Mayor Bruce Halle (City of Layton), Mayor Mike Forster (City of Islamorada).


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