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VDH: Contact tracers needed as reopening continues

(KWCH)
Published: Jun. 12, 2020 at 10:44 PM EDT
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As restrictions continue to ease in places like Richmond, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) says the need for contact tracers is growing. By staying ahead of the virus, they can prevent a potential setback.

“We want almost like a social worker,” said Megan Healy, Chief Workforce Development Advisor."That person to say you know it’s going to be alright. I’m going to provide these services. I’m going to check in on you."

VDH says it has hired more than 870 contact tracers to date. The goal is about 1,300 based on a formula of having 15 tracers for every 100,000 Virginians. Some are volunteers and some are paid.

"A lot of us are looking for ways to get involved and help out with the efforts for COVID-19," said Audra Iness.

Iness was one of the state’s first contact tracers during the pandemic. She’s also a medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University. Tracers make calls to people who a COVID-19 positive patient came into contact with to inform them of potential exposure and to see if they are showing symptoms.

"I feel like a lot of people are very appreciative that we are calling and checking in on them and their families. It's just a really challenging time for a lot of people," said Iness.

Being a contact tracer in Virginia is like a full-time job. Tracers need to commit to six months of work, at 40-hours per week.

"That's really how you slow down the spread of the infection," said Healy.

The state is working with more than a dozen staffing companies to fill the void. You can reach out to VDH to see if you qualify and apply.

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