December 14, 2020

County Health Department Improves Contact Tracing

News Photo

New Texting Tool Goes Live Today

The Oneida County Health Department began utilizing a mobile texting app today that will allow it to expand the reach of its COVID-19 contact tracing efforts and increase the efficiency of the process.

“Community spread continues to be a major concern in Oneida County, and this new tool will boost our ability to contact trace positive COVID-19 cases,” said County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “Our Health Department has been working around the clock to stem the tide of these rising cases, and this will allow our contact tracers to quickly reach out to a large amount of people using less staff, which will greatly increase the efficiency of the process.”

The Health Department will be using RumbleUp, a powerful P2P texting platform trusted by hundreds of organizations and campaigns across the country to quickly engage any size audience via SMS or MMS. The interface will allow the Health Department to notify thousands of people simultaneously of their positive test results and provide them with important follow-up instructions for isolation.

“We know that people respond to text messages faster than phone calls or emails, and our first priority is to reach people as fast as possible and share positive test results. This technology allows us to do that,” added Picente.

During the initial stages of this program, a text will be sent providing a link to additional information (a screen shot example is attached to this story). No personal information will be shared in this text nor will the text ask the receiver to text back personal or confidential information. There are additional features available with the program and further expansion on the information shared via text may be utilized in the future.

The information that will be provided to positive COVID-19 patients by the Health Department through RumbleUp will include instructions for isolation, notifying close contacts, limiting contact with housemates, practicing proper hygiene and what to do if symptoms worsen.

“Texting is a popular, quick, easy way to share information,” said County Director of Health Phyllis Ellis, BSN, MS, FACHE. “This app will allow the Health Department to give accurate, necessary information to more people in less time. The better we are able to do this, the faster isolation and quarantining can happen.”

Oneida County Partners