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Funding extended for University of Utah contact tracing and deployment program

U contact tracing program receives funding through 2021.

The contact tracing training and deployment program at University of Utah was recently awarded a $3.1 million contract from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH). This funding will extend the program through 2021.

As COVID-19 continues to run rampant, identifying individuals who have been in contact with those who have confirmed or suspected cases of the disease is becoming more vital. This process, called contact tracing, can help break the chain of transmission and prevent further spread of the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In June 2020, UDOH provided $2.8 million to the Division of Public Health in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at University of Utah for the development of a university-based contact tracing program as part of the CARES Act funding. Since then, the program has provided contact tracing support to UDOH’s efforts, including:

  • Recruiting more than 500 contact tracers with a focus on diversity and language fluency.
  • Producing a training course for contact tracers that has been completed by over 600 people.
  • Deploying contact tracers at UDOH as an urgently needed addition to the state’s contact tracing team.

Over the next year, the new award will help fund extended training opportunities, including a continuing education course that will be open to individuals interested in joining a contact tracing reserve corps.

“Contact tracing is such an important part of reducing transmission and will be a continuing need until most people are vaccinated.” says Sharon Talboys, the contact tracing program director and an assistant professor of public health at University of Utah. “I want to make sure that the public understands the value of contact tracing to contain COVID-19 and recognize the hard work and dedication of these public health heroes.”