D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia are blazing a new path in COVID-19 information sharing.
The four have joined in the nation’s first multistate effort to quickly share contact tracing data.
“There’s [a] lot of travel, people live in one jurisdiction and work in another, so this really helps the data-sharing processes, which are so critically important in our fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Katherine Feldman, chief public health scientist at the Maryland Department of Health.
The contact tracing data is being shared on a secure cyber platform provided by the Association of Public Health Laboratories. Public health labs have a low public profile but play an important role in monitoring and detecting health threats.
Sharing such information across state lines has presented challenges in the past, and D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia have been working for months, with the help of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, to develop their unified approach.
How might the information sharing help against the virus? Speed is important when trying to curb the spread of infection.
“We can really cut down on the amount of time that’s lost in trying to correctly identify an individual or locate contact information for them,” Feldman said.
The Association of Public Health Laboratories is planning to expand the newly designed system into other states.
Md.’s COVID Alert tops 1 million subscribers
More than 1 million Marylanders have subscribed to the state’s COVID-19 exposure notifications system since it launched last week, Gov. Larry Hogan’s office announced Thursday.
“MD COVID Alert is another important tool in our fight against COVID-19 in Maryland,” Hogan said in a statement. “We are encouraging everyone to opt-in, which will help us stop the spread and protect our fellow Marylanders.”
MD COVID Alert is free and voluntary, and the exposure notifications can be turned off at any time. Hogan’s office stressed that user privacy and personal information is protected.
Learn more about the system at covidlink.maryland.gov/mdcovidalert.
WTOP’s Teta Alim contributed to this report.
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