The stay at home orders and other social distancing measures have been working to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 cases across the country (including in Arizona). But to be honest, ‘stay at home’ type orders aren’t sustainable over the long run because of the collateral damage that these interventions cause in the economy (especially among folks that work in the service sector).
A much more refined tool that has far fewer consequences for the economy is ‘contact tracing’. Over the longer term, case identification and contact tracing is the key to limiting the spread of COVID-19 (until we get a vaccine or reach herd-immunity). In a nutshell, contact tracing involves:
1) Quick and easy testing to identify folks that are infected with an agent (in this case SARS CoV2);
2) Quickly contacting that person and ensuring that they understand that they need to go into Isolation (and coaching them how);
3) Working with the infected person to identify their close contacts over the period in which they were communicable;
4) Finding those contacts and letting them know that they’re at risk for developing the disease; and
5) Helping the contacts to understand that they need to quarantine for a period of time to prevent the spread to others.
It’s a labor intensive process that will require lots of new public health staff, and those folks will need training.
Fortunately, new on-line training is now available. Today, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials announced they have developed on-demand training for entry-level COVID-19 contact tracers. The course, called Making Contact: A Training for COVID-19 Contact Tracers supports ongoing public health agency efforts to prepare new contact tracers for their work of helping identify COVID-19 positive cases and those with whom they have been in close contact.
Folks that take the initiative and complete the training on their own will be very good candidates to be hired by local public health agencies as contact tracers. Here’s a link to that training!