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We Asked All 50 States About Their Contact Tracing Capacity

NPR – Here’s What We Learned [readers may enter a state’s name to see current, planned and projected staffing levels] – Spoiler Alert / there is only state that meets the current requirement for contact tracers – North Dakota.  “States are eager to open up and get people back to work, but how do they do that without risking new coronavirus flare-ups? Public health leaders widely agree that communities need to ramp up capacity to test, trace and isolate. The idea behind this public health mantra is simple: Keep the virus in check by having teams of public health workers — epidemiologists, nurses, trained citizens — identify new positive cases, track down their contacts and help both the sick person and those who were exposed isolate themselves.

This is the strategy that has been proven to work in other countries, including China, South Korea and Germany. For it to work in the U.S., states and local communities will need ample testing and they’ll need to expand their public health workforce. By a lot. An influential group of former government officials released a letter Monday calling for a contact tracing workforce of 180,000. Other estimates of how many contact tracers are needed range from 100,000 to 300,000. NPR surveyed all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia to ask them how many contact tracers they currently have — and how many they were planning to add, if any. We got data for 41 states and the District of Columbia and found they have in total approximately 7,602 workers who do contact tracing on staff now, with plans to surge to a total of 36,587…”

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