New virus tracking program launches in Canóvanas
By John McPhaul
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón, along with Canóvanas Mayor Lornna Soto Villanueva, Health Secretary Lorenzo González, Health Department epidemiologist Fabiola Cruz and the town’s epidemiologist, Krystal Díaz, on Thursday presented the Case and Contact Tracking Program of the Municipality of Canóvanas with the purpose of stabilizing cases of COVID-19 in the northeastern town.
The program aims to control the spread of the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, in Canóvanas by establishing a tracking system that reaches at least 80 percent of contacts in the first 24 hours, monitoring their symptoms, analysis and uniform statistics that report key indicators, identifying cases in laboratory reports that have not yet been reported at the central level, identifying and linking the needs of those affected with aid provided by the different municipal and government agencies and establishing administrative and fiscal processes for the implementation of the program.
“I am very grateful to my friend and Resident Commissioner Jennifer González, who did not skimp on offering her unconditional help during this deadly virus pandemic,” the mayor said. “Thanks to her hard work from Congress, we have managed to live in a historic moment with allocations of federal funds to manage emergencies and other programs aimed at promoting and protecting the health of all Puerto Ricans.”
González Colón, who like the Health secretary participated virtually, said “[t]oday we were able to see the fruit of our work in Congress and our commitment to insert Puerto Rico into aid packages to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic that adds up to nearly $10 billion in federal funds directly for the island.”
“For me it is important to be able to see these funds turned into works like this program for the benefit of our people,” the resident commissioner said. “We are going through difficult times and it is vital to be able to have the resources necessary to control infections. Physical distancing and health measures are essential, but screening for positives will help us prevent the rapid spread of the virus from continuing.”
The island Health secretary said “it is extremely important that municipalities reinforce contact tracing programs, because they are core pieces to feed the central system and identify infections with greater efficiency.”
“Remember that we are in a phase of community transmission, and anyone can spread the virus from anywhere, so it is vital to follow prevention measures,” he said. “I reiterate that the contact tracing carried out in Puerto Rico is effective and is getting stronger and stronger. Through the Health Department’s Municipal System of Case Investigation and Contact Tracking, we will give the municipalities all the support they need to develop their programs effectively.”
Soto Villanueva added that “[s]ince the beginning of the pandemic in Canóvanas we have not rested, working to protect the health and safety of the people of Canóvanas, developing efforts to prevent and reduce contagion.”
“With this program that we present to you today, our goal is to control COVID-19 infections in the municipality through different health strategies,” the mayor said.
The program was developed with a proposal to the Health Department for its first stage and in which it received federal aid as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act totaling $403,590. In turn, the program has an allocation of $100,000 from municipal funds for technical support, operational matters and infrastructure.
At the program’s headquarters are two “office trailers” that are equipped with internet and electricity connections, as well as 13 tables, 13 chairs, 13 security panels, 13 laptops and 13 telephones assigned to each member of the team.