Want to help fight COVID-19? There's never been a better chance. Apply to be a contract tracer in Virginia.

As most of Virginia enters Phase One of reopening, the state is working to develop well-fortified statewide infrastructure to cope with the unique challenges of COVID-19. On Wednesday, May 13, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam reassured the state that we're working on it and outlined how we've allocated federal aid received under the CARES Act.

In addition to the $650 million sent to localities, additional federal funds will go toward two major state priorities: increased testing, and the establishment of a strong contact tracing workforce.

“We have additional federal dollars, and one of our priorities for that money will be paying for the increased testing and contact tracing that we will need moving forward,” Northam said. “The Department of Health is looking to hire many more contact tracers for each health region.”

Virginia health commissioner Dr. Norm Oliver explained why the new contact tracing program matters: "As we move into Phase One, it will be critical for us to 'continue to contain’ the spread of this disease through testing, and ramping that up," Oliver said in the briefing, "identifying cases as they present, isolating those cases from other people, [and] contacting the folks who have come into contact with that case and possibly have been exposed to this disease."

Oliver emphasized that identifying information would never be exposed, and data privacy was a critical element of the program.

As they recruit, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is working with staffing agencies to manage applications, while also working to facilitate the onboarding process.

Many contact tracers for VDH will work remotely, in call centers, or in the field to contact citizens who have come into contact with a COVID-19 case. Workers will also collect survey data to help mitigate and track the spread of COVID-19, providing resources and guidance to those at risk.

Since the program was announced, the state has hired about 604 contact tracers—but that's not enough. The VDH plans to step up that workforce to about 1,300 contact tracers, supervisors, and other public health professionals, which equates to approximately 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 people in the population.

“Boxing in the spread of the disease is the whole purpose of contact tracing,” Dr. Oliver said. “And if we’re not boxing it in, then we need to do more.”

“This is a number that we got from the researchers at Harvard University,” Oliver said, referring to a COVID-19 roadmap, which recommends 15 to 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 people in the population, in order to successfully mitigate the spread. 

“We know it’s going to be quite a feat, but we also know how critical it is,” senior epidemiologist Marshall Vogt told the Virginian-Pilot. “We know that contact tracing is a really critical part of that reopening phase....”

What is Contact Tracing?

Contact tracing is a process of supporting patients and warning contacts of exposure in order to stop chains of transmission.”

CDC, “Principles of Contract Tracing”

Contact tracing is an approach to tracking and containing the spread of the coronavirus. This approach has proven to be successful in mitigating severe spikes in infection rates in some regions (so far). This helps prevent health care systems from being overwhelmed or supplies becoming exhausted due to an unexpected spike in case rates.

Contact tracing works by:

  • Identifying everyone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • Identifying everyone who has been exposed to or come into contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19
  • Telling these people to self-isolate and providing guidance
  • Monitoring these people for symptoms, checking in with them, and facilitating care as needed
  • Using this information to understand how COVID-19 spreads, where exactly it is spreading, and when we may expect a surge in case rates due to an incident of vast exposure so we can allocate medical resources and appropriate protective measures for those who need them, theoretically preventing fatalities

How to Apply

 To join the effort to fight the coronavirus, submit your application to the Virginia Department of Health. Here’s how and where to apply.

Remote Contact Tracer (Vaco Staffing)

  • Job Title: Remote Contact Tracer (Virginia Residents Only)
  • Job Type: Full time, remote
  • Job Description: A contact tracer is a professional responsible for contacting individuals and gathering critical information from residents diagnosed with COVID-19. This initiative is in conjunction with state-wide efforts to increase testing, improve knowledge and communication of strategies to reduce transmission of the virus.
  • Job Duties: 
    • Interviewing & data collection
    • Data entry & maintenance
    • Health education
  • Job Qualifications:
    • Customer service and excellent interpersonal skills
    • Computer literacy & data entry 
    • Plus: understanding of patient confidentiality, basic crisis counseling experience, knowledge of medical terminology
  • How to Apply: Apply here at Vaco Staffing

Contact Tracer (Virginia Department of Health)

  • Job Title: Contact Tracer (2)
  • Job Type: Full time, temporary, entry-level
  • Job Description: These will be temporary assignments for state employees to support critical staffing gaps in the Commonwealth of Virginia state government. Contact tracers will be needed across the state of Virginia. 
  • Job Duties: Contact tracers collaborate with epidemiologists and health educators by providing up to date data from contact tracing calls.
  • Job Qualifications: Entry-level
  • How to Apply: Apply here at Virginia Department of Health

More Opportunities

Read more about contact tracing, testing, Virginia's plan for reopening, and this week in the coronavirus in Local News at Our Community Now Virginia.