The UNLV School of Public Health was awarded a $1.7 million grant from the State of Nevada to continue its COVID-19 contract tracing efforts in partnership with the Southern Nevada Health District.
This grant extends the partnership launched in the fall by an initial $3.4 million commitment from the state.
Through the program, 200 university students have been hired and trained to assist in identifying and reaching out to individuals who may have been exposed by those testing positive for COVID-19.
UNLV’s contact tracing team was first formed in March with a core group of volunteers who have been supporting SNHD throughout the pandemic. While the first group of contact tracers were exclusively students from the School of Public Health, the grants have provided the opportunity for UNLV students across multiple disciplines to participate.
The contact tracing team is led by public health graduate students. In the contact tracing process, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are interviewed by the contact tracers and asked to identify anyone they may have been in recent contact with.
They are asked about any symptoms experienced and advised on testing and quarantine protocols.
Student contact tracers are trained and initially make calls under supervision at UNLV. Once trained, the student contact tracers perform their duties remotely.
UNLV’s student contact tracers speak at least 16 different languages and reflect the diversity of the university’s student body and the greater community.
The program’s principal investigator, Dr. Brain Labus, is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health as well as a member of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s COVID-19 task force.