Delaware has entered into an agreement with the nonpartisan research institution NORC at the University of Chicago to build Delaware’s statewide contact tracing program to contain COVID-19, limit Delawareans’ exposure to the disease, and restart Delaware’s economy, officials said May 12.
The contact tracing program builds on Delaware’s statewide plan to test up to 80,000 Delawareans monthly for COVID-19, said Gov. John Carney. Expanded testing and contact tracing efforts are key to reopening Delaware’s economy under guidance from the White House and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
NORC also has partnered with the State of Maryland to perform contact tracing. Delaware and Maryland will share information to more effectively monitor COVID-19’s spread across state lines. Carney said about 200 Delawareans will be hired as contact tracers and support staff. Applications for contact tracers and other associated positions will be posted at de.gov/coronavirus in the coming weeks.
“To safely reopen our economy, we need to be able to quickly identify positive COVID-19 cases and reach out to those residents who may have been exposed. This contact tracing program brings us one step closer to returning Delaware to a new normal,” said Carney. “We’ve been working with Maryland to coordinate our reopening efforts, and this partnership will build on that collaboration. Going forward, hiring a contact tracing workforce of Delawareans that reflects the diversity of our state will be a top priority.”
Over the next week – as the State of Delaware scales up its contact tracing operation – 100 members of the Delaware National Guard will embed with the Division of Public Health to begin wide-scale, statewide contact tracing. National Guard men and women began their training May 11.
Under Delaware’s contact tracing program, Delawareans who have tested positive for COVID-19 should expect a phone call from a case investigator asking for information which includes a list of the person’s known contacts. Contact tracers will then reach out to each of those contacts to help them safely quarantine, to find alternate arrangements as necessary, and to help them get tested for COVID-19, if recommended.
Delawareans who need extra support to safely self-quarantine – such as grocery delivery or alternative housing – will be referred to a network of local community health workers. Healthy Communities Delaware will coordinate the community health worker effort, in partnership with community-based organizations.