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Hudson Valley Parent writer tells all on contact tracing



A new career opens up in the age of a pandemic

COVID-19, virus, corona, tracer, tracing


A contact tracer, according to MJ Hanley-Goff, a former editor of HVP, occasional writer, and now a certified contact tracer, they are individuals who make “private and confidential calls, conducted with compassion, to those who tested Covid positive to checking in on their symptoms, and encourage them to provide the names and numbers of people they’d been in contact with during their incubation period.”  The optimum word is “compassion.” 

Says Hanley-Goff, “we learned that for a client – the term for someone who tested positive with Covid – to be forthcoming with their friends, or work colleagues, the contact tracer has to have tact, and be aware of how to handle such a personal conversation.”

Hanley-Goff took the free, multi-hour course provided by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and passed the final test to receive a certificate. 

Contact Tracers are being hired throughout the Hudson Valley, to not only find others who may have been infected, but also to support them as they isolate. Once the program is up and running, Hudson Valley families may expect a call that will go something like this:

Once the contact tracer receives the phone numbers of positive Covid patients, they will call them, and first identify themselves as a tracer, and confirm the identity of the client. Then begins a series of questions about their symptoms, whether they’d been in touch with their physician, and who they were with during their contagious period.  They’ll be asked “open” and “probing” questions rather than questions that can be answered either by a “yes” or “no.”  (Which makes information gathering difficult.)

Learn about contact tracing scams here

Tracers will be listening for any shortness of breath by the client, or any confusion which may be a sign that their symptoms may be severe. If they notice any physical stress, the tracer will contact their supervisor.  Tracers ask how the client is self-isolating, and if so, how they are receiving supplies, like food and medicine. If the client lives alone and needs any assistance with a landlord or employer, the tracer will refer them to social services agencies.

The contact tracking program is an effort that has received the support of former New York City Michael Bloomberg and his Bloomberg Philanthropies, which will contribute $10.5 million to the program and help organize it with The Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. “We’re all eager to begin loosening restrictions on our daily lives and our economy,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “But in order to do that as safely as possible, we first have to put in place systems to identify people who may have been exposed to the virus and support them as they isolate.”



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