The COVID-19 crisis has created an unprecedented need for contact tracing across the country, requiring thousands of people to learn key skills quickly. The job qualifications for contact tracing positions differ throughout the country and the world, with some new positions open to individuals with a high school diploma or equivalent.
In this introductory course, students will learn about the science of SARS-CoV-2 , including the infectious period, the clinical presentation of COVID-19, and the evidence for how SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted from person-to-person and why contact tracing can be such an effective public health intervention. Students will learn about how contact tracing is done, including how to build rapport with cases, identify their contacts, and support both cases and their contacts to stop transmission in their communities. The course will also cover several important ethical considerations around contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine. Finally, the course will identify some of the most common barriers to contact tracing efforts -- along with strategies to overcome them.
Basics of COVID-19
In this first module, we'll dig into the science of COVID-19, including what we know about its origins, clinical signs and symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, transmission, and infectious period.
Basics of Contact Tracing for COVID-19
Now that you've learned about the basics of COVID-19, we'll turn our attention to some of the tools being used to stop the spread: contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine. We'll also show you how what you've already learned about infection and transmission informs the use of these critical public health tools.
Steps to Investigate Cases and Trace Their Contacts
In this module, we'll walk through the steps of the contact tracing process and provide examples. You'll also get to watch demonstrations of basic interactions with a case and and a contact.
Ethics of Contact Tracing and Technological Tools
In this module, you'll learn about the important ethical dimensions of contract tracing, including how we balance the protection of the public's health with limits on personal privacy and autonomy. We'll walk through some specific examples to prepare you for some of the issues contact tracers encounter during the course of their work.
Skills for Effective Communication
Effective communication is the cornerstone of a successful contact tracing interaction. That includes building rapport with cases and contacts, active listening, and asking the right kinds of questions. In this module, you'll watch and read several example interactions that demonstrate both how and how not to conduct yourself as a contact tracer.
Final Assessment (Graded)
Emily Gurley, PhD, MPH
Dr. Gurley has worked in public health research in Bangladesh since 2003, and she spent 12 years at the icddr,b (International Center for Diarrheal Diseases Research, Bangladesh) where she led the Surveillance and Outbreak Investigation Unit, and served as Director of the Program on Emerging Infections. She worked closely with the US CDC and the Government of Bangladesh to establish national surveillance for meningo-encephalitis, respiratory infections, acute gastroenteritis, acute hepatitis, and hospital acquired infections, with a focus on developing junior scientists. Dr. Gurley leads multi-disciplinary studies on the transmission, burden and epidemiology of a variety of emerging and vaccine preventable diseases, taking into account the ecological context in which human disease occurs. Her interests include improving the communication and collaboration between field epidemiologists and infectious disease modelers and development of novel surveillance and outbreak detection strategies. She has been working to describe the ecology and epidemiology of Nipah virus since 2004, including identifying transmission pathways and drivers of person-to-person transmission, and designing and testing interventions to prevent human infection. She currently serves on WHO's Nipah Virus Taskforce, advising on the research and development of medical countermeasures. Her research adopts a One Health approach to the study and prevention of infectious disease, taking into account the ecological context in which human disease occurs. Emily is the Co-Director for the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) site in Bangladesh, aiming to determine the etiology of and prevent child deaths. She also works closely with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Global Disease Detection program.