For those who may have lost their jobs during the lockdown, it appears a whole new sector of jobs is opening up across the country. Cities and states are seeking “contact tracers” and “disease investigators” to track down anyone who may have COVID-19 or anyone who may have come in contact with people diagnosed with COVID-19.
There are multiple job postings on Indeed.com, an employment-related search engine for job listings. Job titles include contact tracer, contact tracing supervisor, COVID-19 case investigator, and communicable disease investigator.
While some people find these positions to be necessary to public health, others find them invasive and meddlesome. One of the most worrisome things about this is what kind of power is held by the tracers and investigators. If they feel someone isn’t quarantining properly, and they report that person, what happens next? Ventura County, California officials claimed they would remove people suffering from COVID from their homes if there was only one bathroom, a claim they’ve since walked back after public outrage ensued.
Ventura County officials were forced Wednesday to apologize and clarify that those who could not isolate or quarantine themselves would never be forcibly removed from their homes as part of an effort to further contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Video circulated on social media showed Dr. Robert Levin, the director of Ventura County Public Health, speaking before the board of supervisors Tuesday about a plan to hire up to 50 new “contact tracing investigators” to “find people who have COVID-19 and immediately isolate them, find every one of their contacts, make sure they stay quarantined and check in with them every day.” (source)
If officials really want to see violence and unrest ensue, forcibly hauling off an ailing loved one would be one surefire way to make it happen.
What are contact tracers?
Here’s a little more about these jobs. (Emphasis mine)
New York State will hire and train a team of staff working remotely to support the NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) and Local Health Departments (LHDs) to perform COVID-19 contact tracing in communities across NYS. The aim of this initiative will be to call every person diagnosed with COVID-19, establish all contacts of this person, and proceed to call and maintain ongoing communication with every contact. In addition, the team will support the isolation and quarantine of individuals, as appropriate in cooperation with the LHD. This includes virtual needs checks and referral to community resources as needed. This contact tracing initiative is in tandem with statewide-wide efforts to increase testing, improve communication and knowledge of effective strategies to reduce transmission, and implementation of isolation and quarantine. This will fortify efforts to control the pandemic in NYS.General Summary:
The Contact Tracer will use a web-based client resource management (CRM) platform to call all contacts of anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, determine exposure, assess symptoms, refer for testing according to established protocols, and provide them with instructions for isolation or quarantine. Contact Tracers will maintain ongoing communication with contacts to assess symptoms, ensure compliance with quarantine and determine social support needs and/or handle reporting of issues that arise. Contact Tracers are required to follow set scripts and adhere to policies and procedures provided by NYS. They will also comply with Department training regarding confidential information related to personal information. COVID-19 Contract Tracers will be required to work a minimum of 20 hours per week.
- Work in collaboration with the Case Investigator from the local health department (LHD).
- Call contacts of newly diagnosed cases.
- Communicate with contacts in a professional and empathetic manner maintaining emotional and cultural awareness.
- Collect and record information on symptoms and needs into the CRM with accuracy.
- Provide contacts with approved information about NYS isolation and quarantine procedures, and if appropriate, refer them to testing according to protocol and/or to a COVID-19 Community Support Specialist for social resources.
- Follow a set script to inform contacts about the importance of isolation or quarantine and what to do if symptoms are present or develop.
- Maintain daily contact with Team Supervisor.
- The position is considered temporary with a one-year engagement expected and the possibility to extend as needed.
- The contact center will operate 7 days a week between the hours of 8am and 8pm. Evening and/or weekend work may be required.Minimum Qualifications:
- High school diploma, or equivalent required. Must be 18 years of age or older. Some college training preferred.
- Must be a NYS resident.
- Ability to speak, read, and write English clearly and concisely. Fluency in a second or multiple languages would be a plus.
- Employment is contingent on completion of a background check by NY State.
- Own telephone, computer, wireless internet (WiFi) and electronic equipment. (A partial reimbursement to maintain unlimited phone and data access will be provided.)
- Must have access to a working PC with Windows 10, Antivirus Protection: Windows Defender and Windows Firewall; or Mac with Apple OS X 10.13, Antivirus Protection: Sophos; and personal mobile device to use for this job.
- A headset is preferred.Preferred Skills:
- Ability to exhibit a professional, positive attitude and independent work ethic.
- Excellent interpersonal skills required and ability to interact professionally with culturally diverse individuals during a time of crisis and distress.
- Ability to show empathy to distressed individuals and assist with identifying solutions to problems identified.
- Excellent organizational and communication skills.
- Sound judgment required.
- Ability to handle confidential information with discretion and professionalism.
- Proficiency with computers and data entry into electronic tracking systems.
Because when you’re sick, who doesn’t want to answer questions asked by someone reading from a script? A similar job is posted for Applied Memetics.
There are also postings for “Communicable Disease Investigators”
Another even more invasive COVID-related job is ” Communicable Disease Investigator,” a position that Louisville, Kentucky is urgently seeking to fill.
Crown Services, Inc. in Louisville is proud to accept applications for COVID-19 Communicable Disease Investigators to join the fight against the novel Coronavirus in our community! The work involves investigating situations concerning individuals who have been in contact with COVID-19, which could result in possible sources of infection. This includes locating patients of COVID-19, and persons with whom they have had contact. Investigation procedures involve contacting various information sources such as welfare agencies, neighbors, hospitals, work locations, restaurants, and bars. The investigator is primarily concerned with locating persons who should be examined for acute infection. General supervision is received from an administrative superior with leeway allowed for the exercise of independent judgment and initiative in carrying out the mandate of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. Certain assignments made to employees in this position will require reasonable access to transportation to meet field work requirements made in the ordinary course of business in a timely and efficient manner.
Required Education and Experience
Current student or graduate from a college of public health, medical science, college of nursing, or school of medicine.
- Interview patients to elicit information regarding their contacts to COVID-19 positive patients and to determine possible personal and health history related to transmitted diseases.
- Educates and counsels patients regarding transmitted diseases and risk reduction.
- Locates persons who have been reported to have COVID-19 or who have been in contact with infected individuals; directs these individuals to submit necessary laboratory specimens and such other necessary control measures.
- Induces persons who have been in contact with COVID-19 to have medical examinations and laboratory testing as applicable.
- Provides information and education on COVID-19 to phone inquiries.
- Conducts interviews with persons who are COVID-19 positive and assists them in informing their close contacts of their positive status.
- Conducts investigations to discover unreported cases.
- Performs a variety of duties relating to the preparation of reports, entering personal data on patient registers, and preparing correspondence to send to patients who are in need of medical examination and treatment.
- Maintains records on all delinquent and/or non-conforming patients.
- Prepares individual narrative reports concerning work procedures and certain patients.
- Utilizes appropriate methods for interacting effectively and professionally with persons of all ages and from diverse cultural, socioeconomic, educational, racial and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, lifestyles, and physical abilities.
Pay and Schedule
COVID-19 Communicable Disease Investigator pay is $35.00 per hour base, plus mileage reimbursement
These full-time opportunities are on a rotating shift, and are available immediately! These positions are work from home with travel required within the Greater Louisville Metro area, including Southern Indiana. Staggered shifts are assigned between 7am-7pm, Sunday-Saturday. (source)
And don’t forget the dystopian technology.
Not only do sick or potentially sick people need to worry about being phoned or questioned by contact tracers, but there’s also a whole new world of dystopian technology being rapidly developed.
Apple and Google formed a partnership to develop a phone app with the potential to monitor one-third of the world’s population. The Australian government has developed an app called COVIDSafe to “protect you, your family and friends and save the lives of other Australians. The more Australians connect to the COVIDSafe app, the quicker we can find the virus.”
In fact, all sorts of potentially invasive new technology tools are springing up to “fight COVID.” Some use AI to detect signs of COVID and the Department of Defense is deploying thermal imaging to detect signs of COVID.
These things won’t just go away when the pandemic is over. If they’re in use for a year or two years – however long this virus is with us – chances are, they’re here to stay.
Meanwhile, it’s still nearly impossible to get tested in many states.
Despite the White House’s claims that anyone who needs a COVID test can get one, it’s proven to be nearly an impossible feat for many people who are genuinely ill. According to one report, the availability of testing depends on one major factor.
It depends on where you live. In California, El Dorado County and Los Angeles are offering free testing to all residents, even if they’re not showing symptoms. However, they still need to have an appointment.
Some cities and states may be able to test more people if they have more access to the test kits themselves. For example, tens of thousands of test kits are being diverted to New York state, a coronavirus hotspot and leading site of COVID-19 fatalities, because the need there is strong. New York is planning to manufacture its own test kits this month.
As a result, the limited number of tests available at each site are often reserved for higher-risk patients (for example, those with source)) or those that are associated with COVID-19, such as trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, confusion and bluish lips or face. (
In some states, you can’t just go to the drive-through testing facility and take a test – you require a doctor’s order, which you can only get after an appointment.
If you need to get tested, here’s a regularly updated list of testing locations across the country.
What do you think?
Do you find contact tracing and disease investigators to be a necessary part of combatting the coronavirus? What about the new tracking and detection technology? Or do you feel that these things are an invasion of privacy?
Article posted with permission from Daisy Luther
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