US contact tracing workforce surpasses 50,000: 4 things to know

The COVID-19 contact tracing workforce in all U.S. states and territories reached 53,116, according to NPR‘s latest survey, done in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

The survey is based on states’ number of case counts over the past 14 days and uses the Contact Tracing Workforce Estimator developed by The Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Four things to know:

1. Contact tracers help track COVID-19 cases and exposure. They call those who are infected and find their contacts to notify them of their exposure risk so they can take precautions. 

2. The latest count of 53,116 contact tracers marks a roughly 30 percent increase from NPR‘s August survey, although an increase in the number of states that are now included was a factor, the publication reported. Still, NPR notes that the count remains lower than the more than 100,000 that public health experts have called for since the pandemic started.

3. NPR‘s latest survey showed Oregon, Vermont and Washington, D.C., have enough contact tracers, and the states of Maine, Montana, New York and Hawaii have enough when including reserve staff. More than 40 states do not have enough to meet their needs.

4. More than half of surveyed states told NPR said they plan to hire more contact tracers.

Read more about the survey here

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