Californians to receive calls, texts and emails about contact tracing from public health workers in an effort to curb COVID-19 spread

California
Workers perform drive-up coronavirus testing at the Westfield Fashion Square on May 13, 2020, in Sherman Oaks. (Kevin Winter/ Getty Images)

Workers perform drive-up coronavirus testing at the Westfield Fashion Square on May 13, 2020, in Sherman Oaks. (Kevin Winter/ Getty Images)

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Gov. Gavin Newsom launched a public awareness campaign Friday to inform Californians about contact tracing efforts amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The campaign, called California Connected, will connect public health workers across the state with individuals who test positive for the coronavirus, and those in close contact with them, to ensure that they have access to confidential testing, medical care and other services to curb further spread.

“[It’s] a PSA campaign to explain to people what tracing really is and what it’s not,” Newsom said during a Friday news briefing.

Starting next week, Californians will hear radio ads and see billboards, social media posts and videos in multiple languages that encourage them to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, public health workers will call, text and email individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and people they may have unknowingly exposed to the virus. The caller ID will say “CA COVID Team,” state officials said.

“We’re asking Californians to answer the call when they see their local public health department reaching out by phone, email or text,” the governor said. “That simple action of answering the call could save lives and help keep our families and communities healthy.”

Contact tracers will not ask for financial information, social security numbers or immigration status.

California plans to train 10,000 contact tracers statewide as part of its plan to reopen the state. More than 500 individuals have already been trained under the new program and another 300 are currently in training, according to a news release.

The contact tracing will build on existing infrastructure that’s been in place for years for other diseases like measles, tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS, and hepatitis, he said.

The program is led by the state in collaboration with the California Department of Public Health, local public health departments and UC San Francisco and UCLA.

The two UC schools have already launched an online training academy to develop a culturally competent and skilled contact tracing work force, according to the news release.

Accenture, a global professional services company, will launch a data management platform developed by Salesforce with Amazon Connect to streamline and coordinate the efforts.

Multiple private partners, including the California Health Care Foundation, the California Endowment, Jeff Skoll, Twitter and Facebook, have committed a total of $5.1 million in funding and resources to help educate all California through the campaign, according to the news release.

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