An NPR survey of state health departments shows that the national coronavirus contact tracing workforce has tripled in the past six weeks, from 11,142 workers to 37,110. Yet given their current case counts, only seven states and the District of Columbia are staffed to the level that public health researchers say is needed to contain outbreaks.
Contact tracers are public health workers who reach out to each new positive coronavirus case, track down their contacts, and connect both the sick person and those who were exposed with the services they need to be able to safely isolate themselves. This is an essential part of stamping out emerging outbreaks.
To understand how that picture had changed since NPR’s initial contact tracing survey in late April, NPR reached out again to all state health departments, as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories. In total, NPR reporters were able to assemble data from all 50 states along with D.C., Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Contact tracers are an essential part of stamping out emerging outbreaks. But do states have enough of them to safely reopen? https://t.co/wK6VKXRPiU
— WGBH News (@wgbhnews) June 18, 2020