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Center for Health Security Partners with NPR to Conduct New Survey on National Contact Tracing Workforce

Center News


August 7, 2020 – The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and its partner, the National Public Radio (NPR), have released findings from a new survey on the state of the national coronavirus contact tracing workforce.

The survey, which was conducted in July 2020 among state health departments in 45 states and Washington, DC, found a total contact tracing workforce of 41,122. NPR’s previous survey, which was published in mid-June 2020, had found a contact tracing workforce of 37,110. Several public health experts, including the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, have called for expanding the workforce to 100,000 contact tracers to help control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contact tracing is a critical public health tool used to contain infectious disease outbreaks. Tracers work with new positive coronavirus cases to identify who they may have been in contact with and connect cases and those who have been exposed with supportive services.

Crystal Watson, DrPH, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, is leading the collaboration with NPR alongside Lucia Mullen, a senior analyst at the Center. “Having contact tracing workforces in place is important at this point in the pandemic. Not only does contact tracing identify coronavirus cases and help contain spread within cases’ closest personal networks, but it also offers information about where and how quickly disease is spreading in communities,” explains Dr. Watson. Looking at these data, within and across states, begins to help us paint a clearer picture of the pace of coronavirus cases across the country.”

This survey is the third in a series by NPR that quantifies the national coronavirus contact tracing workforce, and the first conducted in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.