Associated Press — Pennsylvania health officials defended decision to give COVID-19 contact tracing another bid ban contract on Wednesday after a serious data breach involving a former state vendor, increasing incidents However, we called the school’s preparations for reopening in the fall an urgent priority.
The Ministry of Health has awarded a public consulting group a contract that state officials expect to do about $ 9 million, but if the coronavirus spreads again, it could swell to $ 34 million. Health officials have hired a Boston-based company through urgent procurement to allow them to bypass the normal contract process.
This is the same process that state authorities used to hire the first vendor, Atlanta-based Insight Global. Dismissed in May After a company employee compromises the personal data of more than 70,000 residents.
Contact tracers identify people exposed to the coronavirus and enable them to be quarantined.
At a hearing on Wednesday, Senate Republicans questioned the need for a separate no-bid contract, given that most adults in Pennsylvania have been vaccinated and the number of cases is relatively small.
Republican lawmakers said Governor Tom Wolf’s administration overused emergency contracts during the pandemic and awarded 39 contracts worth more than $ 200 million on the Ministry of Health alone.
Republican Senator Michele Brooks of Mercer County said such contracts “have little oversight, transparency and accountability.”
Health ministry officials objected that all vendors were kept to the same standards regardless of employment method. They said they had to act swiftly to set up a new company to perform contact tracing in time for the beginning of the school year.
“Contact tracing is more important than ever given the limited mitigation measures currently in place and the threat of delta variants,” says a more contagious strain of COVID-19. Sweeping the entire United StatesSaid Alison Beam, acting state health minister.
Data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering show that across the state, new virus cases have increased by 135% over the past two weeks, averaging about 382 cases per day.
This is just one part of the COVID-19 infection that Pennsylvania reported in December, before the vaccine became widely available during the pandemic heyday. However, state health officials said contact tracing is crucial to prevent new outbreaks.
“We can talk about the cost of this deal … but we want everyone to realize that we’re talking about preventing people from dying from COVID,” said Chester County Democratic Senator. John Kane said.
A Ministry of Health official said the public consulting group has been highly acclaimed by other states performing contact tracing, demonstrating its ability to protect sensitive data.
Authorities said the company would use a secure contact tracking and management system inside the state.
“We are taking steps to gain the trust of the Pennsylvania,” Beam told Senator.
To store names, phone numbers, email addresses, COVID-19 exposure, sexual orientation, and other information about residents contacted for contact tracing by employees of the company. After using an unauthorized Google account (easily viewed online), the state has replaced Insight Global. .. Insight Global acknowledged and apologized for mishandling sensitive data.
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Pennsylvania Defends Contact Tracing New Bid-Free Trading | News
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