Washington contact tracers making calls to help fight virus

Washington has trained more than 2,100 people to work as contact tracers during the coronavirus outbreak, people who will call every person who tests positive for COVID-19 to find out who they have had close contact with.

They then call the contacts to urge them to get tested and quarantine for 14 days, seeking to stop the spread of the virus.

About 630 employees of local and state health departments are working on the assignment, The Seattle Times reported. The state has also trained 723 members of the National Guard and 769 employees of the state Department of Licensing to help out.

Of the more than 2,100 trained contact tracers, about 700 are currently active, the Health Department said. Local officials are spread around the state, while about 50 National Guard personnel are making calls at well-spaced work stations from that Health Department office building.

The goal, which the state has not yet reached, is to contact each person who tests positive within 24 hours, and call each of their close contacts within 48 hours. Tracers will not tell the contacts who the infected person is or who gave the tracer their phone number. Officials stress the entire process is voluntary. (AP)

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