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The soaring number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has far outstripped many local health departments’ ability to trace the contacts of those infected, a step critical in containing the virus’ spread.

With the pandemic claiming about a thousand American lives a day, many city and county departments say they lack the money and staff to expeditiously identify people who have been exposed, according to a Reuters survey of 121 local agencies, as well as interviews with dozens of state and local officials, epidemiologists and tracers.

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