contact tracing

The United States needs as many as 100,000 contact tracers to fight the pandemic, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Congress in June. We need billions of dollars to fund them, public health leaders pleaded in April.

An NPR survey of state health departments shows that the national coronavirus contact tracing workforce has tripled in the past six weeks, from 11,142 workers to 37,110. Yet given their current case counts, only seven states and the District of Columbia are staffed to the level that public health researchers say is needed to contain outbreaks.

Protesters march down High Street in Columbus on June 2, 2020.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Public health experts worried that COVID-19 would continue to spread even as states reopen. Those concerns have been compounded recently, as large crowds gather to protest police brutality and the killings of black Americans. 

A proposal from the Ohio House that would require people with COVID-19 give consent to contact tracing in writing has been rejected by the Senate. That sends the bill to a conference committee.

COVID-19 testing machine
Ohio Department of Health

The state is continuing to build up its contact tracing infrastructure through a partnership with local health departments as health officials tout the importance of matching contact tracing with testing to fight the coronavirus.

As local health departments try to contain the spread of coronavirus by tracking down those who might have been exposed to people with COVID-19, the Ohio House passed a bill requiring health officials to get written permission from people before beginning the contact tracing process.

Registered Nurse Janice Tatonetti, right, takes the temperature of Harry Pearson before he votes in Ohio's primary election at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Cleveland.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

Across Ohio, public health departments are investigating the spread of COVID-19 with the help of contact tracers. These “disease detectives” are tasked with locating people who may have also contracted the coronavirus, but don't know it yet.

A man walks past a closed business Wednesday, April 29, 2020, in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

As part of WOSU’s ongoing COVID-19 coverage, we asked listeners to share their questions with us about the illness and Ohio's response. Now we have some answers.

Updated April 28, 5:00 p.m. ET

Across the U.S., state leaders are grappling with the challenging decision of when to relax the social distancing restrictions that have helped keep COVID-19 in check.

Updated: 4:10 p.m., Friday, April 24, 2020

Ohio will “substantially” increase its capacity for coronavirus testing as the state’s manufacturers step up the production of test kit components, Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday.

More testing, combined with expanded efforts to trace the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state, will help health workers “isolate” and “kill” the virus, the governor said.

“Frankly, what I like about this, and why I’m so excited is it’s going to enable us to really go on the offensive as we attack the virus,” DeWine said.