COVID-19 tracing can't happen without up to 300,000 more workers

The U.S. may need 100,000 to 300,000 workers to conduct the contract tracing needed to track the coronavirus effectively, but there are currently less than 2,000 workers at state and local health departments focused on these efforts, according to Politico.

Health departments need people to interview infected individuals about who they've come in contact with and ask them to self-quarantine. Hiring 100,000 disease interventional specialists needed for these efforts could cost $3.6 billion, according to National Association of State and Territorial Health Organization estimates.

Some states are expanding their contact tracing teams, but not nearly enough. Arkansas, for example, grew its team from three to more than 150 individuals while North Dakota now has more than 300 contact tracers and wants to bring on another 200 disease trackers. Utah has accepted volunteers to conduct contact tracing and San Francisco alone is training more than 250 new workers to trace COVID-19.

In Washington, the first state to report a COVID-19 case, remains one of the hardest-hit. The Washington Department of Health is training 700 people in contact tracing and aims to add 800 more investigators, according to a report from a local Fox affiliate. By mid-May, the state plans to have 1,500 more people trained in contact tracing.

Big tech companies aim to automate the contact tracing process by tracking contact between individuals via smartphone. Google and Apple teamed up to create an interoperable API tracking the spread of COVID-19 using a Bluetooth-based platform. However, users would have to download the app and opt-in.

More articles on health IT:
15 tech execs named to Trump's economic revival task force
Cleveland Clinic shares predictive model to help hospitals plan for COVID-19: 4 things to know
Where IT leaders are spending during the pandemic: 5 things to know


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