HSC students to help Tarrant County with COVID contract tracing

Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels

Students from the University of North Texas Health Science Center (HSC) at Fort Worth will help Tarrant County Public Health perform COVID-19 contact tracing under a $1.9 million contract approved by Tarrant County commissioners.

The agreement will pay for the students’ time, program management, human resource functions, a virtual call center and facilities to support contact tracing.

“HSC has the expertise and resources to be of valuable service to our community during this time of crisis,” HSC President Dr. Michael Williams said in a news release. “It is a natural partnership between the future health providers we train at HSC and Tarrant County Public Health professionals to work together to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.”

HSC will provide 90 part-time employees from five HSC schools – Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, School of Public Health, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, School of Health Professions and College of Pharmacy — to participate in the program, the equivalency of 45 full-time employees.

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The project is funded by the CARES Act approved by federal lawmakers earlier this year.

“Contact tracing is a key component to reducing the spread of COVID-19,” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said. “We are pleased to partner again with HSC to help stay on top of this virus while also providing valuable training to HSC students.”

The contact tracing work is expected to begin Sept. 1, said Noah Drew, HSC senior director of external relations. Students will train and participate in an orientation before they begin contact tracing. Students will work through Dec. 30, when the contract ends.

The goal of contact tracing is to stop the spread of COVID-19. When people are notified that they may have been exposed to the virus through contact tracing, they can take steps to self-isolate, monitor their health and inform close contacts about potential risks.