Former CDC director says coronavirus contact tracing will need 300,000 workers

Tim O'Donnell
·2 min read

The hiring process has begun in some cities across the United States, including San Francisco and Boston, for a COVID-19 coronavirus contact tracing workforce, but there may be a long way to go until there's an adequate number of employees on board, Stat News reports.

Contact tracing is the most logical next stop in the effort to quell the coronavirus pandemic, and it will take quite a few people to get it done, perhaps testing "the capacity of the existing public health system." Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said it will require "an army of 300,000 people."

Not everyone thinks such an extreme number is necessary, but the consensus is there needs to be a major increase. David Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said people trained in tracking down contacts of patients with sexually transmitted diseases would be immediately available to step into the role for coronavirus, as well. But he told Stat there's only about 1,600 people in the workforce these days, when 30,000 are needed for COVID-19.

The good news is that people seem to be interested in the job. K.J. Seung, a senior health and policy adviser for tuberculosis at Boston-based nonprofit Partners in Health, has put out a call for hiring and training in the Boston area. So far, he said, his office has received more than 5,000 applications for 500 openings. Read more at Stat News.

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