Wisconsin DHS no longer seeking contact tracers to track the spread of COVID-19

Posted at 12:37 AM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 17:44:31-04

UPDATE: All jobs are filled - applications are no longer being accepted.

Wisconsin health officials are looking to hire "a large team" of contact tracers to help local health departments fight the spread of coronavirus.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) posted the contact tracer position on Saturday afternoon. The listing says that it offers full and part time positions with a pay rate of $20 per hour, and it requires you to work from home. The state will need to hire hundreds more to meet its original Badger Bounce Back goal of 1,000 additional staff.

On Thursday, officials said that they trained nearly 400 state employees who have been reassigned from normal work duties from other departments. Officials are also training about 50 more.

According to the Department of Health Services, contact tracing involves interviewing every confirmed coronavirus patient and notifying everyone who has been in that patient's close contact.

COVID-19 survivor Tina Kreitlow says contact tracers called her sister after she listed her nephew as someone with whom she came into close contact. Health officials define close contact as coming within six feet of a confirmed case for at least 10 minutes.

"She just called me and said I got a call from the North Shore Health Department and they just wanted me to know Vince was in contact with you," Kreitlow said.

"Each contact tracer could have maybe 10 to 15 contacts in a day that they try to reach out over the phone, and they educate them on the disease and the signs and symptoms of the disease, they tell them they have to stay quarantined for 14 days," said Waukesha Public Health Coordinator Elizabeth Laatsch.

Waukesha County has five teams of 30 county employees reassigned to make contact tracing calls. City of Milwaukee health officials are employing 45 contact tracers and are expected to train 30 more this week.

Generally speaking, health officials have said that citizens are cooperative with contact tracers, however the job can take an emotional toll.

"They almost become counselors with these people, and they listen to their stories, and sometimes they’re very sad stories," said Elizabeth Laatsch. "So we have actually provided some counseling to employees where they talk about some of the stresses."

For more information on becoming a contact tracer for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, click here.

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