PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Contact tracing has become an important part of stopping the spread of coronavirus.
Andy Henderson is doing his part to help.
“In March, with the onset of the virus, our medical rotations were put on hold,” Henderson said. “And a lot of us were looking for ways to get involved.”
The fourth-year University of Pittsburgh medical student is what is called a case investigator, the first step in the process before contact tracing starts.
“So a person like me, a case investigator, will give them a phone call and collect information for statistical purposes. Like what symptoms they’re having, when they started having symptoms,” said Henderson.
Henderson uses a database through the state Department of Health to enter his findings. Then he asks who that person has been in contact with before passing off the information to a contact tracer.
Bill Hartman is learning how to become a contact tracer. He’s taking a new 45-hour course at the Community College of Allegheny County to become certified in contact tracing.
“I think this is an opportunity to help the community, to educate, inform and bring awareness and trust,” said Hartman.
Hartman said it will be his job to contact the people who come in contact with the person who tested positive for coronavirus and ask them if they’re having symptoms.
It is a necessary job, but one that requires a lot of legwork.
“It’s really so important in our new normal as we get back to work, in being able to appropriately report the measures and being able to alert individuals who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive,” said Vice President of Workforce Development at CCAC Debra Killmeyer.
If the person has come in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, it’s then the contact tracer’s job to check in regularly.
“You would monitor and contact them once weekly to find out where are you, how are they feeling and they should do a 14-day self-quarantine,” said Hartman.
The state Department of Health said there are approximately 350 people participating in contact tracing efforts across Pennsylvania.
The state said it’s working to hire additional contact tracers soon.
CCAC said there’s still room to sign up for the next round of contact tracing classes.
To register for the course, call 412-788-7507 or contact Jodi Campano at firstname.lastname@example.org.