Conversation With A Contact Tracer: A Look At America’s Fastest Growing Job

We depart from our traditional format with this episode to offer a glimpse inside the world of contact tracing. This is the fastest growing job in America, with the need for an estimated 200,000 contact tracers to track infections and protect the U.S. population against the advance of the COVID-19 virus. For those in our audience who may now be unemployed or simply looking for a new challenge, we thought it would be interesting to learn how the job works and the qualities needed to excel in this role.

We connected with Daniel Okpare, a 30-year-old masters student in New York University’s School of Global Public Health. In addition to getting an advanced degree, he is on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, working for New York City’s Health and Hospitals Program. He was previously profiled in The New York Times.

One point of clarification…many of the contact tracer positions focus on connecting with individuals infected by the virus by telephone. Daniel’s job is that of a “community engagement specialist.” He goes out into the community to meet with individuals that can’t be reached via the telephone. He typically conducts 4-6, face-to-face interviews per day. Interviews take place in the doorway of the infected individual’s home and run for 20-30 minutes.

We regularly celebrate the doctors, nurses, physicians assistants and paramedics helping to combat the COVID-19 crisis. It’s to add “contact tracers” like Daniel Okpare to this list of healthcare heroes.

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