A man wears a mask as uses his cellphone at Times Square in front of an American flag on March 5, 2020 in New York City.
Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
Two universities have begun offering free online courses on how to become a contact tracer.
Health experts have said reopening the country will require a massive testing and tracing effort to minimize coronavirus infections, and at least 180,000 contact tracers will be needed.
Contact tracers’ jobs include calling people who have been in close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, interviewing them, and offering advice on self-isolating.
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At least two universities have begun offering free online courses to teach people how to become contact tracers — a role that cities across the country are desperate to hire for amid efforts to safely lift lockdowns.
Contact tracers will be tasked with identifying people who have been exposed to the coronavirus. The job consists of calling anyone who has come into contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, informing them they’ve been exposed to the virus, and instructing them on self-isolation.
Johns Hopkins University and the University of Houston have both begun offering free online courses — the latter program is currently open only to students and faculty, but is expected to become available to the broader Texas community in the coming weeks.
The courses come as cities and states launch efforts to reopen businesses and relax social-distancing guidelines so that residents can resume their daily lives and return to jobs. Health experts have said lifting these stay-at-home measures and reopening businesses will require a mammoth testing and tracing effort to minimize coronavirus infections until a vaccine is developed.
A medical professional works at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site at Cambridge Health Alliance Somerville Hospital on April 28, 2020 in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Getty Images/Maddie Meyer
Johns Hopkins’ course will be hosted on the platform Coursera, and will take roughly five hours to complete. Enrollment is currently open.
The program includes modules on the basics of COVID-19 and its symptoms, infection and transmission details, the contact tracing process, ethics and privacy protections, and communication skills.
Health experts have recommended that the US hire at least 180,000 contact tracers across the country over the next 18 months, though states have currently only dedicated some 36,000 workers to the task, according to NPR.
The work is done remotely, and typically pays between $17 and $22 an hour.
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