Gov. Baker unveils contact tracing program to help limit COVID-19 spread

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker announced a new contact tracing program Friday that he said will help the state limit the further spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts.

The program will focus on alerting individuals who may have come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 so they can self-quarantine or be tested themselves, the Republican governor said. Massachusetts will be the first state to launch such an initiative, he said.

The program will deploy nearly 1,000 contact tracers to connect with COVID-19 patients and their contacts. The program is a collaboration between the state and the nonprofit Partners In Health.

Baker pushed back against the idea that it might be too late to launch the program, saying it was time to stop playing defense and start going on the offense against the disease.

Dr. Joia Mukherjee, chief medical officer of Partners In Health, acknowledged the task will be difficult.

“We are daunted by the challenge, but we are undaunted by the moral need to stop the epidemic,” she said. “Is it too late? It cannot be too late. We need to mitigate the suffering now.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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