As a community, together we can achieve the goal of expanding this critical infrastructure.
Expanding Case Investigation and Contact Tracing
Case investigation and contact tracing is designed to identify people who have COVID-19 or who have been exposed to COVID-19. The goal is to interrupt chains of transmission by helping to ensure the safe and effective quarantine of potential contacts, slowing the spread of the virus through our County. This is one containment strategy among many that will allow for far fewer restrictions to be placed on the community. The level of resources needed for this effort is unprecedented, however, and includes not only new technologies and substantial staffing, but also the availability of those critical resources that the community might need in order to safely isolate or quarantine.
Early in the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, The County’s Public Health Department engaged in extensive case and contact investigations, with the assistance of staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to identify and interrupt all chains of transmission. As the number of cases of COVID-19 began to rapidly increase here and elsewhere around the country, this initial containment strategy had to give way to the population-based mitigation strategy of shelter in place. While we continue to use shelter in place to broadly slow the spread of the virus, the expansion and rapid scaling of contact tracing is essential as restrictions associated with the orders to shelter in place are eased.
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Building on existing protocols and deploying the new technology, Public Health’s current case investigation and contact tracing team has increased its capacity to investigate cases significantly. The Department is now able to investigate 25 new cases per day, including communicating with each of those individuals contacts. As shelter-in-place restrictions are rolled back and as the number of contacts each newly infected person increases, Public Health anticipates it will need capacity to conduct detailed case investigation and contact tracing for approximately 50 to 75 new cases per day, with an average of 40 contacts per case.
The number of staff needed to fulfill these roles is substantial. We anticipate that intensive case investigation and contact tracing will need to remain operational for at least a year. We expect to fulfill these positions with a combination of:
- County and other public agency staff who are available to be deployed for at least six months to a year to assist with this effort;
- Community volunteers willing to make a similar commitment; and
- Contracted staff to meet needs not fillable by persons in categories (1) and (2).
The Case Investigation and Contact Tracing (CICT) team will include four types of positions, with different requirements and responsibilities:
- CICT staff members who will maintain a caseload, calling contacts assigned to them, offering isolation and quarantine guidance and resources as needed, and inputting information into an online platform;
- CICT Lead staff members who will perform a lead function for the CICT unit to support scheduling, supervision, and troubleshooting needs;
- CICT Clinicians who will have a medical or clinical background and provide clinical consultation and guidance to the CICT unit; and
- Data Entry staff members who will assist with data reconciliation needs between databases.
Together, these positions will provide the support needed to sustain our case investigation and contact tracing activities. We anticipate filling a combined nearly 1,000 positions from those categories outlined above.
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Another critical element needed to ease shelter-in-place restrictions is the ability to support individuals who are directed to isolate or quarantine, so that we can interrupt chains of transmission and slow the spread of COVID-19. These individuals may need support to identify a safe place to isolate or quarantine, assistance with food, childcare, and financial support while out of work. The County is preparing to help support this effort as part of its broader work to ensure that members of the community can access the housing and other services they need. We will continue to collaborate with local jurisdictions, our public health partners, the State, and experts across the nation, sharing best practices, strategies, and resources as they are developed, to lead the nation in the response to this pandemic.
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While Public Health staff will lead and provide the core staffing for this effort, we have retained Heluna Health, a not-for-profit organization with extensive experience supporting public health initiatives in partnership with many state and local health jurisdictions, nonprofits, and academic institutions. Heluna Health will support recruitment, training, human resources support, and oversight of a diverse workforce of temporarily reassigned government staff, volunteers, and contracted team members. The assistance provided by Heluna Health will allow the County to mobilize this workforce much more rapidly than would otherwise be possible. Heluna Health will be training approximately 100 new team members each week starting in mid-May, with a goal of reaching approximately 1,000 case and contact investigation staff fully trained by mid-July.
Joining the Team
To ensure the gains that we have made as a community through sheltering in place are preserved, the County anticipates needing nearly 1,000 full-time equivalent workers to provide active and rapid case investigation and contact tracing. To achieve this goal, our county will need to come together to identify public agency workers, community partners, and volunteers to serve in this critical workforce.
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Public and Community Organizations
In addition to the County workforce being redeployed for these efforts, the County is seeking help from governmental and community partners in identifying a large pool of people who can commit to this work. Team members will interview cases, call potential contacts, enter and manage data, and identify resources needed to ensure appropriate follow up and compliance with isolation and quarantine. We are asking you and other partners to identify any individuals that your organization is willing to redeploy to be members of the team we are building. Individuals, with approval of their employer, must be available to serve as a Disaster Service Worker with the County for 24 to 32 hours a week for a minimum of three months, ideally for a minimum of six months.
Qualifications and Skills Desired
- Able to work remotely for at least 24 hours per week, and ideally full-time at 40 hours per week
- Able to work for a minimum of three months, and ideally six months or longer
- Excellent customer service and interpersonal skills
- Strong written and communication skills, with an attention to detail
- Computer proficiency with ability to enter data into web-based systems
- Able to work remotely with reliable internet and a computer
- Other language capabilities
If you have current employees who may meet these qualifications, and you are willing to reassign them to this effort for at least three months, please contact us at ContactTracing@eoc.sccgov.org for more information.
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Individuals Looking to Volunteer
If you are an individual looking to volunteer on our team, we are so grateful for your interest! We ask that you complete this survey in order to share with us your relevant experience, abilities, and availability. You will be contacted shortly after completing the form with more information about registering as a Disaster Service Worker (DSW), completing the appropriate paperwork, and receiving the required training to join our contact tracing team.
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Heluna Health is Hiring
Heluna Health is partnering with the County of Santa Clara to onboard and train our case investigation and contact tracing workforce. If you are interested in applying for a position with Heluna Health, please review their job postings online.
Paid opportunities are currently available for the following positions:
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