LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — With nearly half a million Nevadans currently out of work, many people are on the hunt for a new job. A quick google search reveals that, right now, there are thousands of job listings for contact tracers in Nevada.
"I think it is one of the best ways for us to reopen parts of our society with some confidence the transmission isn’t going to get out of control," said Dr. Emily Gurley, an associate scientist at Johns Hopkins University.
By now, if you're sick of being stuck in quarantine, Dr. Gurley says, until a vaccine is developed, our only hope of safely returning society to some sense of normalcy is through contact tracing.
"The scale and speed that we have to do this for COVID-19 is unprecedented. It’s going to take unprecedented efforts," added Dr. Gurley.
As a contact tracer, it's your job to reach out to patients who test positive for COVID-19 and walk them through how to isolate themselves safely. Then, you'll have to compile a list of everyone that person came in contact with since they became infected, so you can track them down and walk them through how to self-isolate.
"It’s important to find those people because they’ve been exposed and they could also be infectious. As you probably know, people can be infected with this virus and never know it. They may never develop signs and symptoms or even if they are going to develop the disease, they are infectious before that happens," said Dr. Gurley.
"So, people can unknowingly infect others and this is your best way of finding out that you could do that," he added. "And they’re going to help you come up with a strategy to limit contact with people you live with and make sure that you’re not having any other contact with people that can give this virus more opportunities to spread in the community."
"Being a contact tracer is sort of like being a disease detective," said Jason Guggisberg, a vice president with Adecco Medical and Science, an employment agency based out of Jacksonville, Florida. His agency has been tasked with hiring thousands of contact tracers in the state of Nevada.
"We are definitely under a time constraint and we would love to hire as many Nevadans as we can, especially in Vegas, said Guggisberg.
He says prior professional experience in the healthcare industry, such as working as a receptionist in a doctor's office, can be helpful, but it's not required. He says the most important qualities of a good contact tracer are compassion and empathy.
"Compassion and empathy is a lot of what goes into these conversations. As you can imagine, having conversations with individuals who may have come in contact with someone who just tested positive or may be asymptomatic, as well, where they’re not showing any signs of having COVID-19, but they've come in contact," said Guggisberg.
With pay starting at $17 per hour in Nevada, Guggisberg says it's a great gig for anyone who wants to work from the comfort of their couch.
"It’s very easy to apply, one click apply. If they’ve lost their job and they are interested in doing contact tracing, we will absolutely take their call, invite them, and make sure that this is something they really want to do and they’ll be great at," said Guggisberg.
If you're interested in learning more about contact tracing, you can take a free training course online from Johns Hopkins University by clicking this link.
For a list of open positions at Adecco Medical and Science in Las Vegas click here.