News10NBC Investigates: Testing and tracing to reopen. What are they and where do we stand?

Berkeley Brean
Updated: May 05, 2020 06:11 PM
Created: May 05, 2020 06:04 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Every region in New York needs to meet the criteria in seven categories in order to start re-opening its economy.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office says the Rochester Finger Lakes region falls short in two of them: Testing and tracing. But News10NBC did the math and asked direct questions and learned we may only have one to go.  


The state shutdown ends May 15. So we have 10 days to figure this out. According to the state's reopening scorecard, we're good with hospitals and the number of new infections. The governor's office says we need to meet the standards when it comes to testing and tracing. 

Here's what that means and where we stand. 


The state rule says we need the capacity to be able to do 36,000 tests a month over the nine counties in the region. On its first day as a testing site Friday, MCC did 350. That's 10,000 a month. 

The Monroe County Public Health Commissioner says we already meet the state requirement

Brean: "What is our capacity to test right now? How many can we do in a month?"

Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County Public Health Commissioner: "I don't have the exact number but I do know the number we can provide is much greater than the number we needed to be able to conduct in order to meet the 30 per 1,000 population metric."

Contact Tracing

Here's the governor's explanation. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo: "When you get a positive, you talk to that person and trace back who they have been in contact with. You then test those people. You then isolate those people so you don't increase the rate of infection."

So let's look at Monroe County Tuesday. Forty new people tested positive. 

The contact tracers have to identify who those 40 people had close contact with over the last two weeks. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is in charge of organizing the "army of tracers." 

According to the governor's office, our region needs 361 tracers. We are working on finding out how many tracers we have at this moment. 

Technology will help. UB is developing a tracing app called PocketCare+. It's a new version of an app they created five years ago to track the flu. 

Chunming Qiao, Chair, UB Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering: "The app uses Blue Tooth technology to automatically detect other smartphones nearby and therefore can record that contact information in a database."

Brean: "When can you get this out onto the market so it can be on people's phones?"

Chunming Qiao: "Oh, we're going through some review by Google and Apple stores right now so hopefully it will be in a week or 10 days."

That takes us to May 15, the day the New York on PAUSE order expires. 

The UB app is able to distinguish between someone you were close to for several minutes and someone you just passed quickly on a sidewalk. 

You can apply to be a tracer. Click here to apply to be one.

You have to go through training including privacy laws and pass a test. 

The latest information on the coronavirus and resources can be found at

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