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New Mexico To Join Pilot U.S. Effort On Virus Contact Tracing

(Eddie Moore/The Albuquerque Journal via AP, Pool)

New Mexico’s governor says the state has accepted an invitation from the White House to participate in a pilot program to improve and expand contact tracing for coronavirus infections in efforts to better isolate outbreaks.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she accepted an invitation to participate in the pilot program with the White House Wednesday, and that it was unclear whether other states would be involved.

New Mexico has consistently been among the top states in testing per capita for COVID-19 infections, while aggressively tracing new infections and developing a customized forecast model in cooperation with two national laboratories in the state.

“They want New Mexico to be a pilot for surveillance and research and what we call contact tracing,” Lujan Grisham said. “That’s figuring out a more automated way and bringing in more workers to figure out who has been exposed.” She said it was clear the effort would involve the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, along with Ambassador Deborah Birx, a coordinator of the White House coronavirus response team and fixture of televised national news conferences. “It was a call to determine our interest,” Lujan Grisham said.

The first-term Democratic governor has been critical of the federal preparedness for the pandemic — without calling out President Donald Trump by name — and has pushed for a nationally coordinated approach to procuring and distributing protective and medical equipment and slowing the spread of the virus.

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