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Thursday, June 4, 2020

US Congress Holds Virtual Briefing on Building a Contact Tracing Workforce

The Committee on Education and Labor held a virtual briefing to examine Congress’ role to support a qualified, strong, community-based contract tracing workforce. The briefing, entitled “Building A Community-Based Contact Tracing Workforce,” focused on the need for a robust contact tracing workforce and how the public workforce system can support the recruitment and training of contact tracers.

The briefing featured Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and Abby Snay, Deputy Secretary for the Future of Work at the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

“With states across the country relaxing stay-at-home orders, we are facing a pivotal moment in our effort to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott. “Contact tracing, which helps identify, inform, and isolate people who have been exposed to COVID-19 before they potentially spread the virus, is essential to that effort. Unfortunately, there are only 2,200 contact tracers in the entire country and the current workforce does not reflect the diversity needed to reach our most affected communities.”

“By building a robust, national contact tracing workforce, we would take a critical step toward solving two challenges,” said Committee Vice Chair Andy Levin (MI-09). “First, we would build the contact tracing capacity needed to stop this virus dead in its tracks. And, second, we would help the record number of unemployed Americans reenter the workforce and contribute to our recovery effort.”

Last month, Rep. Levin introduced the Coronavirus Containment Corps Act (H.R.6871), which provides $500 million to help state and local workforce agencies connect unemployed individuals with contact tracing employment opportunities. Key parts of that legislation were included in the House-passed Heroes Act, which includes a $75 billion investment to meet the country’s testing and contact tracing needs.

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

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