Need a Job? Contact Tracers Needed to Track Coronavirus Exposures

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If you’re one of the millions of people looking for work right now, the state and nearly every California city may have a job for you: contact tracing.

Thousands of trackers will be needed to help track suspected coronavirus exposures as the state begins to reopen.

As San Francisco ramps up coronavirus testing, there’s also an effort to build an army of contact tracers. These infection investigators will use phone calls to create exposure maps, tracking everyone who may have been exposed to the virus and then tracking everyone those people exposed.

“How are they feeling, evaluating if they have any symptoms,” contact tracer Lucia Abascal explained. “Also, their living situation. So, are they able to quarantine?"

Abascal, a University of California, San Francisco PhD student and former physician, is using her skills to track the coronavirus.

“It’s good to be in a place where we’re setting standards for what’s going to happen in California and probably around the country and around the world in the future,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, contact tracing is a specialized skill. Those interested in the job should:

  • Have an understanding of patient confidentiality 
  • Be able to understand medical terms
  • Have excellent interview skills
  • Be able to enter information into apps, such as one by Dimagi, a tech company working with public health and UCSF to track cases 
  • If possible, be able to speak multiple languages

Abascal speaks to families in Spanish.

“Many of them are worried what will happen in the future, so, just being able to talk to them about it and just listening," she said.

Health experts say the goal is to create a case file for everyone who tests positive and build out from there if the public ever wants to move beyond the stay-at-home order. 

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