Press Room

As Unemployment Rates Rise, Thousands of COVID-19 Contact Tracers Trained Through New Online Training Course in All 50 States

ASTHO & NCSD Program Has Trained Over 10,000 Individuals in Contact Tracing 

WASHINGTON, DC (May 15, 2020)–As states and territorial health agencies ramp up their contact tracing workforce, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) have trained over 10,000 individuals across the country in entry-level COVID-19 contact tracing. The free, online course, Making Contact: A Training for COVID-19 Contact Tracers, was launched by ASTHO and NCSD at the end of April and has received over 18,000 registrants in just two weeks, averaging over 1,000 new registrants per day. More than 650 unique organizations, located in every state and territory, have utilized the training program as part of their jurisdiction’s effort to rapidly scale up new contact tracers.

"We are thrilled by the overwhelming response from so many individuals across the country who want to be part of the COVID-19 contact tracing efforts happening in their communities," said Michael Fraser, CEO of ASTHO. "Contact tracing is critical to our nation’s COVID-19 response, and we know that this course will continue to supplement the efforts underway in cities and states to quickly on-board new contact tracers and help meaningfully bend the curve of COVID-19 infection."

The goal of the program is to support ongoing state and local public health agency efforts to prepare new contact tracers for their work of identifying COVID-19 positive cases and those with whom they have been in close contact. ASTHO, NCSD, and other national public health agencies are calling for an immediate hire of at least 100,000 contact tracers and 10,000 Disease Intervention Specialists to meet the COVID-19 contact tracing needs and help rebuild the American workforce.

"This program is preparing thousands of new contact tracers to go out into their communities to fight the spread of COVID-19 and break the chain of infection," said David C. Harvey, Executive Director of NCSD. "Contact tracing has been used for decades to combat infectious disease outbreaks in the U.S. and around the world. No matter your professional background, you can be trained to do this work."

The online training, which can be completed in about three hours, is designed to prepare individuals with little or no public health background to work as entry-level contact tracers. The course provides lessons on infectious disease control, especially for COVID-19, and follows the four steps of contact tracing—notify, interview, locate contacts, and monitor. These lessons can then be supplemented with local- and state-specific instructions to customize and tailor the content to the needs of individual jurisdictions. The training went through a rigorous peer review process and has been awarded a quality seal from The Public Health Learning Navigator.

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ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.

The National Coalition of STD Directors is a national public health membership organization representing health department STD directors, their support staff, and community-based partners across 50 states, seven large cities, and eight U.S. territories. Our mission is to advance effective STD prevention programs and services across the country. NCSD does this as the voice of our membership. We provide leadership, build capacity, convene partners, and advocate. Go to ncsddc.org for more information.