The demand to hire and train COVID-19 contact tracers is rising

President Trump's positive COVID-19 test generated a firestorm of headlines and news stories.  

It also put the spotlight again on contact tracing, an important weapon in combating the spread of the virus.  

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Experts here in Southern California, like their counterparts in states across the country, are hiring, training, and deploying contact tracers to work the phones, asking personal questions to those who've tested positive in order to literally trace their contacts.  They reach out to them by phone, and warn them because of their exposure to someone who's positive, they need to quarantine.

(COVID-19 contact tracers)

Thousands of people have already been hired and trained, but more need to be hired to keep up with the new cases.  UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Professor Dr. Shira Shafir is helping coordinate this COVID-19 tracing academy. 

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Shafir says, "When people are contacted and told that they need to quarantine, they need to monitor themselves for symptoms, it can have a very clear impact on that individual's life, and making sure they're really receiving appropriate testing and care, and they're working really hard to prevent exposing other people unnecessarily."

The challenge is that once the COVID-19 positive people are contacted on the phone, many don't want to answer the contact tracer's questions. By some estimates, about half of those contacted don't want to participate in the voluntary program.

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