Governor John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Health recently outlined a plan for COVID-19 testing and tracking that would hire as many as 700 Louisianans to serve as “contact tracers,” interviewing and advising people who have tested positive to determine who in their lives could also be at risk.
During the week of May 4, LDH signed a contract with Accenture and Salesforce to manage Louisiana’s contact tracing process, using two Louisiana-based call centers with 100 percent Louisiana agents. The training for these contact tracers will be managed by LSU’s Stephenson Disaster Management Institute. While hiring will be statewide the initial locations for the call centers are based in the Lafayette and New Orleans areas.
“As we fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana, it is vitally important that we put Louisianans to work on solving the problem. Contact tracing is key part of our strategy for moving the state forward, as it will allow us to determine who has been exposed and is at the highest risk for becoming sick, get them tested and keep them isolated from others,” Edwards said on Fri. May 8. “We are also working with Louisiana Workforce Commission and other statewide partners helping to connect Louisianans with jobs. These 250 agents are just the beginning. We will continue to add additional team members and this system will allow us to build up to 700 agents in four weeks if needed, and will expand as needed.”
“Contact tracing is crucial but it alone will not get us past this pandemic,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Courtney Phillips. “No matter how many contact tracers we have, if individuals who are contacted by these contact tracers do not self-isolate then we will not succeed. We can get past this but only if we all do our part.”
Contact tracers must have graduated high school, feel comfortable having a telephone conversation with someone and also entering data. They must be compassionate, able to protect and honor patient privacy, and complete a very detailed training session. To apply, email ContactTracing@La.gov.
The first group of contact tracers, around 250 team members, will begin training next week, with services available to the state by May 15. As of Friday, May 8, there are 30,855 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in Louisiana, with around 20,000 people presumed recovered. Since March, 2,154 Louisianans have died of the illness.
Members of the public can continue to get information from the Governor’s office on Coronavirus.la.gov and by texting LACOVID to 67283.