County partners with SDSU to boost local COVID-19 contact tracing efforts

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego State University’s School of Public Health will partner with county public health officials to train and recruit community health workers and students to bolster contact tracing efforts in the region’s underserved communities, it was announced Wednesday.

SDSU faculty will train and recruit about 110 people to identify and connect with individuals who may have come in contact with those who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Contact tracing will help us reach the community members most in need, to contain the spread of this disease in San Diego County by helping people become aware that they may be at risk for COVID-19 and informing them of actions they need to take,” said Hala Madanat, SDSU’s School of Public Health director.

Once county health officials identify a positive COVID-19 case and obtain a list of people the patient has been in contact with, community health workers will contact those individuals and advise them to self-quarantine. SDSU students will then follow up via telephone to check whether COVID-19 symptoms have developed.

SDSU says contact tracers will make up to 37,200 phone calls for the initial contacts, which will be matched by about 37,200 follow-up calls. Community health workers will also make about 4,650 in-home visits once shelter- in-place restrictions are lifted.

Starting June 9 at 9 a.m., those interested in applying to be a contact tracer can find application forms online at http://listentosandiego.org/.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said it is “crucial to the public’s health that we also approach COVID-19 with a diverse and ethnically sensitive contact tracing program that reaches into and gains trust in all of our communities.”

“We have experience with this equity model and are confident that this partnership with SDSU will provide another tool for our ongoing epidemiology disease investigations that are helping control the community spread of COVID-19 and ultimately save lives,” Wooten said.

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