Santa Clara County Still in Need for Coronavirus Contact Tracers

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The search continues for coronavirus contact tracers in Santa Clara County.

County officials last week announced it wanted 1,000 people to lead the effort to find and help people who may have come in contact with someone with COVID-19. Santa Clara County currently has 50 people who have signed up to be contact tracers.

Doctors said contact tracing is a crucial job that smartphones cannot do by themselves.

"We are looking to build that workforce by up to a 1,000 people by the middle of July," said Evelyn Ho, Santa Clara County's contact tracing expansion lead.

But so far, the numbers are not adding up.

County officials said they're having trouble finding people willing to reach out to those who have been in contact with people who have coronavirus. They admit, it's not an easy job.

UCSF's Dr. George Rutherford said people will do a better job at tracing than phone apps from tech companies like Google and Apple because of the human touch.

"First of all, you have to understand how close they were, how long they were in contact, who had masks on -- there are lots of nuances to this that you can't necessarily plug into an algorithm," Rutherford said.

Santa Clara County said it's looking both for county employees who have time to help and for volunteers. Hiring those contact tracers could be the key to how fast businesses can reopen. That includes churches, which got the state's green light, but may now have to overcome the county's concerns.

Editor's Note: Santa Clara County is not offering any pay, all contact tracers are volunteers.

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