CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP/ – Massachusetts is ending its program that tracks down people who were in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

The reason, a lack of state-funded workers to help track new infections. The Boston Globe reports that local health departments are being advised by the state to only do contact tracing for COVID-19 cases in group settings.

Health officials are shifting resources to testing and vaccination outreach as the number of cases and hospitalizations increase.

From April 2020 to December 2021, the Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC) supported local health departments in their contact tracing work on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The goal of the CTC was to assist local health departments and reach out to people who tested positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts, making sure they received the support they needed to isolate, quarantine, or get tested.

Four main organizations worked closely to manage this initiative:

  • Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH): Public health authority & epidemiological guidance for the CTC
  • Massachusetts Health Connector (Connector): General contractor of the CTC
  • Partners in Health (PIH): CTC Workforce partner
  • Accenture: CTC Technology partner

The CTC helped to meet the initial public health need for case investigation and contact tracing, responding to an average 63% of total statewide new confirmed cases. The CTC:

  • Received cases and contacts delegated to CTC from 220 cities/towns
  • Supported over 500K cases and over 250K contacts through the duration of their isolation and quarantine
  • Made over 2.6 million outbound calls and sent thousands of SMS text messages to help connect with cases/contacts
  • Provided Care Resource Coordination support to connect nearly 119,000 at-risk residents with community supports, resources, and public benefits during their isolation and quarantine
  • Supported DPH and local public health with rapid response to outbreaks and multi-jurisdictional cluster investigations
  • Provided tailored support and collaboration for local health jurisdictions through dedicated CTC Local Health Liaisons
  • Supported a statewide readiness and rapid response strategy for all institutions of higher education and boarding schools and their host communities, beginning Summer 2020 in preparation for 2020-2021 school year.

The CTC also assisted the Commonwealth in the launch and delivery of other COVID-19 related services and programs, including:

  • Implemented MassNotify, the official exposure notification system for Massachusetts. More than 1.6 million users statewide use this system
  • Managed and later sunsetted the Massachusetts Travel Quarantine program. CTC provided data management and reporting to DPH and local public health for the 725K visits captured via Massachusetts Travel Form data while the Travel Order was in effect.

As the state’s response to the pandemic evolved over time, local health departments and the Department of Public Health resumed responsibility for all COVID-19 related case investigations and contact tracing.  To prepare for the transition of contact tracing responsibilities, the Department of Public Health awarded over $20 million in federal and state resources directly to local boards of health to build local capacity for case investigations and contact tracing.