Health department recommends greater St. Louis area needs to hire about 600 contact tracers

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By NewsRadio 1120 KMOX

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - A St. Louis Alderman is calling on the city to hire more contact tracers, who can find people who’ve been exposed to others who test positive for COVID-19. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) said health departments should have 30 tracers per 100,000 citizens. 

Following those standards, the city would need to have 90 contact tracers to account for its more than 300,000 residents. A spokesman for St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson says the city has "more than 20" contact tracers, including 10 who work for the health department, four with the state and six medical students from Saint Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis. There are also five more WashU students in training to become contact tracers. 

The mayor's office says their staffing is "adequate and more will be added as needed." The city says because of shutdowns the average number of people who need to be contacted per positive COVID-19 patient is only two or three people. The city also says it has automated computer software that can do a lot of the work, including texting and making phone calls to patients who tested positive and those they may have exposed to the virus.

Cara Spencer, St. Louis(Kevin Killeen, KMOX)
Alderwoman Cara Spencer, who’s running for mayor, says without enough contact tracers, the city could face more cases, more deaths and more shutdowns. She says the city should use some of its federal stimulus money to hire them. 

NACCHO recommendations would mean more than 900 contact tracers would need to be employed in the greater St. Louis area (combined population of more than 2 million residents) and a nationwide force of 98,460 workers. 

CONTRACE Public Health Corps is an urgent national effort to identify, screen & train individuals who are interested in working or volunteering as contact tracers. 

They are accepting online applications to work with organizations who need to contact tracing teams. Their website says you must be a U.S. resident to apply and the application consists of 23 questions and will take less than 5 minutes to complete.

Click here, to learn more.

Governor J.B. Pritzker calls contact tracing crucial to Illinois's efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and says the state plans to start hiring contact tracers soon. 

Anyone interested in becoming a contact tracer can click here, to fill out the form on the Illinois health department's website. Names of people interested will be forwarded to local health departments, which will do the hiring. 

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