The SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has posed enormous physiological, psychological, social, and financial implications on the people of New Jersey. Implementing collaborative and robust public health initiatives - like the New Jersey Community Contact Tracing Corps program – is key to breaking the chain of transmission and slowing community spread of COVID-19 as we seek to reopen the Garden State.
While our local health departments have been conducting contact tracing since the beginning of the outbreak and routinely perform this work, there is a need to centralize and expand contact tracing efforts across the state. To support local health, the New Jersey Department of Health is building a Community Contact Tracing Corps. To start, the Department is partnering with the state’s institutions of higher education that will employ public health, social work, and students with health-related backgrounds as frontline workers. This diverse and well-trained group of New Jerseyans will be serving the communities in which they live, work, and study.
While the initial Contact Tracing Corps will be comprised of Rutgers School of Public Health graduate public health students and alumni, the Rutgers School of Public Health will also collaborate with other institutions of higher education throughout the state, as well as units within Rutgers University, to build a robust pool of diverse student-tracers, who will be matched to the counties and communities in which they reside to further grow the ranks of contact tracers and create jobs for New Jerseyans.
The Rutgers School of Public Health’s Center for Public Health Workforce Development will be leading the first group of community contact tracers, developing and providing culturally-competent training that ensures compliance with privacy and confidentiality - including federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and State of New Jersey Communicable Disease law and rules – applying existing public health, epidemiological, behavioral, social support and counseling models to enact a program informed by target, test, treat, and trace principles. The program, which will be coordinated with the New Jersey Department of Health and local health departments, will evolve as guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention further develop and utilize the contact tracing software, CommCare.
Initially, the Rutgers School of Public Health will recruit, train, manage and oversee a team of student contact tracers and social support coordinators (individuals who will provide connections to social service resources to support mental health and psychosocial issues related to the contact tracing program) that will represent the multicultural populations across the state. Contact tracers will augment local health department staff and be managed by a county-level/regional-level team developed to address COVID-19. The program will be built upon existing national contact tracing educational platforms and bolstered by integrating New Jersey-specific training on context and culture, being mindful of county and regional differences, and embracing New Jersey’s diversity.
Register at: https://covid19.nj.gov/forms/tracer. As soon as the application is available, we will contact you to submit your materials.