San Francisco is rolling out a virtual assistant tool as part of its contact tracing as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise. In addition to calling people, they can use this option.
“Over the last seven days we have averaged 130 new cases of COVID-19 each day,” said Dr. Susan Philip, the deputy health officer in San Francisco and an infectious disease specialist. “Investigating these cases and information close contacts and helping people isolate, quarantine and test that’s how we slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The city is rolling out a virtual assistance tool that many other counties are already using to supplement their case investigation and contact tracing work.
Philip says San Francisco has one of the most robust and culturally competent case investigation and contact tracing teams. At most times, during a pandemic, the Department of Public Health reaches more than 80% of people who test positive for COVID and close contacts. This tool is part of the state’s platform.
“San Francisco has just moved over our case investigation and contact tracing system to the state system called Cal Connect This tool is now available to us,” said Philip.
It begins with a text provided to the number provided at the time of the test.
“It leads into an online survey on your smart phone. The virtual assistant is a tool that we use in conjunction with our more than 200 team members the virtual assistant is confidential just like a call from the health department from our covid team,” Philip said.
City residents who test positive would receive the notification and some would also get a call. Additional calls may go to areas with disproportionate cases, with the idea of focusing resources there too.
“We are not giving up on reaching anyone,” said Philip.