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Text Messages to Confirmed COVID Cases Provide Residents with Guidance, Help Stop Virus Spread
As high COVID-19 case counts continue, new tool gets info out quickly

Published: 1/8/2021

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Pillus, Communications Director

845-486-2000

Poughkeepsie, NY … Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro announced the County’s Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) is now using a texting program to provide guidance and direction to residents who test positive for COVID-19. Across the state, as the high volume of new daily positive cases continues, it has become increasingly difficult for case investigators to connect with individuals who test positive in a timely manner, even with additional staffing resources available. The texting application provides those who test positive for COVID with important information about how to properly isolate and notify close contacts to prevent the spread of the virus, as well as other resources and information.

The County has partnered with Rumble Up, a texting platform, for this additional notification tool. The program, which is available to residents who provide their cell phone number to providers at the time they are tested for COVID-19, allows DBCH to concurrently alert multitudes of residents of their positive test results and offer them follow-up instructions regarding quarantining — alleviating the already-overwhelmed contact tracing and case investigation apparatus.

County Executive Molinaro said, “Time is of the essence when working to stop the spread of COVID-19: The quicker our Department of Behavioral & Community Health can notify residents they’ve tested positive, the quicker they can quarantine and notify their close contacts to isolate. Dutchess County has been a statewide leader in recruiting contact tracers, and this new texting tool will complement these tracers’ exhaustive efforts to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible.”

While the additional staff have made tremendous progress connecting with those who test positive, the addition of the new text-messaging platform will increase the efficiency of these tracers’ productivity, giving the County the ability to reach countless residents with just a few keystrokes, and expands the case investigation process efficiency.

DBCH Commissioner Dr. Anil Vaidian said, “Hundreds of local contact tracers — volunteers and DBCH staff alike — have worked countless hours for months to stop the community spread of COVID-19, notifying their fellow residents who have tested positive and providing them vital information to keep them and their contacts safe. Though the recent uptick in positive cases has stressed the system, our new text notification system will augment our tracers’ tireless efforts, instantaneously reaching hundreds of residents with positive cases, while providing critical resources for themselves and those they may have unknowingly exposed.”

While DBCH has begun vaccinating eligible individuals against COVID-19, vaccine supply remains limited and most residents are not yet eligible under the New York State vaccine administration plan, making it critical to continue to prevent the spread of the virus.  

“The vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel but make no mistake – we are still in tunnel. We still have far too many people impacted by COVID-19 and we cannot let down our guard when we are so close to the finish line. If you test positive – isolate, notify your contacts and stay home to recover,” concluded Dr. Vaidian.