NYC Health + Hospitals plans 874 layoffs when universal contact tracing ends

NYC Test & Trace Corps, the city’s initiative for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, is ending universal contact tracing by the end of April. NYC Health + Hospitals, which runs the program in conjunction with the city’s health department and other agencies, plans to lay off 874 workers when the program is scaled back, according to a notice filed with state regulators on May 4. March.

“Due to the reduced need for COVID-19 contact tracing efforts in New York City and the United States Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] recommendation to cease universal COVID-19 contact tracing programs, NYC Health + Hospitals will permanently separate 874 employees from the Test and Trace program,” the notice to state regulators reads.

The health system said the temporary employees affected will be laid off at the end of April. Management employees affected by the layoffs will have their jobs terminated between May 13 and May 27, according to the notice.

New York City’s main COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program is scaled back after the CDC said it no longer recommends universal COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing for track and contain COVID-19. The updated guidelines, released Feb. 28, came nearly two years after the agency requested 100,000 US contact tracers to mitigate the spread of the virus.

The decision to end universal contact tracing in New York also stems from other factors, including rising vaccination rates and new drugs, according to The New York Times. About 87% of adults in New York are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The CDC still recommends contact tracing in high-risk settings, such as long-term care facilities, jails, and jails. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will conduct contact tracing in these settings with support from Test & Trace, according to Crain’s New York Business.

The testing portion of the Test & Trace program will continue. The program’s roughly 2,000 full-time contact tracers have been invited to apply for positions with the health department and other city agencies, Ted Long, MD, senior vice president of ambulatory care at NYC Health + Hospitals and Executive Director of Test & Trace Corps, Told Crain’s.