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Hiring Hoosiers: IUPUI gets $10.5 million to hire 300 contact tracers

Tracking coronavirus cases proves difficult amid new surge
Posted at 5:15 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 17:15:33-04

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INDIANAPOLIS — More than 300 COVID-19 contact tracers are being hired, tried, and managed by IUPUI after receiving a grant from the city of Indianapolis.

The city and Marion County Department of Public Health are giving $10.5 million to the Fairbanks School of Public Health to hire the contact tracers through the end of the year, according to a press release from IUPUI. The money is apart of the almost $80 million the City-County Council allocated in June to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both remote and field-based contact tracers, as well as supervisors, will work together to identify people who may have had a person-to-person transmission of COVID-19, according to the release.

"The Fairbanks School of Public Health is uniquely positioned for this endeavor," Paul K. Halverson, the school's founding dean, said in the release. "Our ties to the Indianapolis community, coupled with the expertise of our public health practitioners, bring together the skills in project development, implementation, quality improvement, monitoring and evaluation that are necessary for this project to be successful."

While technology and mobile apps can help notify people who were within six feet of someone who had COVID-19, having real people contact trace will give more access to health information and resources to people, said Shandy Darth, principal investigator on the contract and director of undergraduate epidemiology education at the Fairbanks School.

"If we relied only on technology, it would create another barrier for those who have been hardest hit by the disease: people living in poverty, African Americans, Latinx communities and others," Dearth said in the release. "Person-to-person contact tracing may prevent a strong acceleration of disease -- especially in urban settings like Indianapolis, where the population is denser in smaller geographic areas, which makes social distancing more difficult."

Contact tracers will make initial contact with people over the phone but may need to contact people through fieldwork if they cannot be reached by phone, according to the release.

Both part-time and full-time contact tracing positions are available. To learn more and apply, visit IU's website.

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