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County of Santa Clara Invites Volunteers to Serve as Contact Tracers

 
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Online Application for Community Volunteers to Join Community Effort Is Now Available


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2020

Santa Clara County, CA – The County of Santa Clara is seeking volunteers to support the vital function of case investigation and contact tracing.  This function will ensure that we collectively can quickly contain transmission of the Coronavirus to small clusters and prevent widespread transmission that leads to exponential case growth and an overwhelmed healthcare system. Contact tracing capacity is one of five key indicators monitored by Bay Area Health Officers as they consider further easing shelter-in-place orders.

Today's announcement continues the County's intensive efforts to scale-up contact tracing, with a goal of building a workforce of nearly 1,000 people -- more than twice the size of the existing Public Health Department. County workers have shifted their duties to respond to the pandemic as contact tracers. To supplement this effort, volunteers from the community are needed to fill key roles. All members of our community are encouraged to join this effort by completing an online survey to share their interest, skills, and availability. The County's goal is that a majority of the contact tracing staff and volunteers have capability in languages other than English, particularly Spanish and Vietnamese. This work can be done from home as long as volunteers have reliable internet, access to a computer, and a place to make private phone calls.

The volunteer application website is available at www.sccgov.org/icanhelp.

Contact tracing prevents additional cases by interrupting chains of transmission, or the spread of the virus, especially by people who don't yet know they have COVID-19 or who don't feel sick. As shelter-in-place restrictions are rolled back, there will be an increased number of contacts to each new COVID-19 case, and the Public Health Department anticipates it will need to reach up to 21,000 contacts of exposed individuals each week at the peaks of transmission.

"Right now our daily case counts and the number of people they have come in contact with remain low, thanks to the community's effort to shelter in place over the past weeks," said Dr. Sarah Rudman, Assistant Health Officer.  "Contact tracing is a fundamental public health strategy that we use for many contagious diseases. In order to ease restrictions, we know that we need to be prepared to reach out to every case, ensure they are able to safely isolate, and prevent further transmission by notifying any person with whom they have been in close contact, which will require this significant expansion of our contact tracing team."

Volunteers will be teamed with Public Health Department staff; other County, City, and local government workers redeployed as Disaster Service Workers; and newly hired staff and contractors. 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. They will receive training from the County and nonprofit partner Heluna Health on interviewing skills, contact tracing software, privacy obligations, and other topics.

Desired skills and qualifications for contact tracing volunteers include:

  • 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

"We have been heartened by the immense interest from our community to work together as we respond to this pandemic," said County Executive Dr. Jeffrey Smith. "Effective response to COVID-19 takes all of us, working together, and volunteers are a key part of our contact tracing community outreach. If you are interested in joining us, please take a look at the requirements and apply."

Read more  about the County's expanding case investigation and contact tracing work.

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Last updated: 8/13/2020 11:48 AM