Why are states hiring contact tracers when they have idle teachers and librarians?

From NPR:

In all, 44 states and the District of Columbia now have plans to expand their contact tracing workforce, reaching a total of 66,197 workers — an increase by 30,000 of the number that were planned last week when we first published.

Several states that took our survey are making big efforts to shore up their contact tracing workforces. Notable examples include Louisiana and Kentucky, which are both planning to hire 700 people; Texas, which has 1,150 contact tracers and is hiring another 2,850 to start; and Kansas, which plans to bring on 400.

If public schools, libraries, and other state government functions are shut down, shouldn’t states have millions of idle people currently on the payroll? Why would they need to hire more instead of just providing some training to a current state worker who doesn’t have a lot on his/her/zer/their plate?

6 thoughts on “Why are states hiring contact tracers when they have idle teachers and librarians?

  1. On the off chance you are being sincere, it is because it is difficult to reassign a member of a public-employee union.

  2. Haven’t you learned yet? For some big-time MIT propellerhead, you ain’t too swift. This penny-ante stuff at the state level is chump change, bro. Small time operators, punks and ditzy broads ( https://www.google.com/books/edition/Gumshoe_on_the_Loose/Zj1FDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=ditzy+broad&pg=PA257&printsec=frontcover ). You gotta read all the way dowwwnnnn the article:

    “A bill introduced in the House of Representatives Thursday calls for $55 billion to hire a national “Health Force” to do contact tracing and other public health work.”


    I just hope they all take the Harvard Implicit Bias Test (hat tip: Medical School 2020).


    Gosh I just hope all that private health and contact data on Malachi’s laptop is kept safe and secure!

    • I just took the test for the fat/thin bias. I think I’m pretty biased against fat people and answered most of the direct questions accordingly, but the rest of the other OCD-type questions and strange lightning-round bad word/good word test must have tapped into my not-so biased unconscious, because their conclusion was that I am in no way biased toward either fat or thin people.

    • @Sam:

      I took the Weapons test and it reported that I’m slightly biased toward associating white people with weapons. That might make sense because most of the people I’ve known throughout my life who own them are white. Or it could mean that I don’t automatically associate Black people with dangerous weapons, which is also true, despite my listening to a lot of NWA and Brand Nubian in my yoof. I have been held up at gunpoint by a Black man, a long time ago in Baltimore, late at night, walking back from a convenience store for a food break in the middle of studying for an Organic Chemistry exam. It was moderately frightening, but I didn’t panic. I gave him my wallet and said very calmly: “No problem. Here’s my wallet, take the money, just let me keep the ID because I have a big test tomorrow.” He took the cash (about $40) and ran off into the night with his lookout partner who was stationed on the corner about half a block away.

      Then I rode around in the back of a Baltimore police car for three hours early in the morning while they searched in vain for the perpetrators. I finally told them: “Officers, thank you for trying to find this guy, but I have to get some sleep or I’m going to fail my exam.” In other words, I didn’t give the guy any strife or reason to shoot me, I tried to be as calm as possible because I didn’t know how agitated and trigger happy he might be. In that instance deescalation worked. I got an A on the exam.

  3. I don’t know whether this directly affects contact tracers very much, but funding is also being used in California as a stick to enforce compliance among counties thinking about moving ahead in the reopening plan without state approval:


    Mark Ghilarducci, director of the governor’s Office of Emergency Services, sent a letter to Tulare County officials this week warning them that the county could lose disaster funding if it continues down its current path.

    “If Tulare County believes there is no emergency, such that it can ignore the governor’s executive orders or the state public health officer’s directives, the county would not be able to demonstrate that it was extraordinarily and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” Ghilarducci wrote.

    So if a county opens up before Newsom gives it the all clear, they lose their disaster funding. Mutinies will not be tolerated.

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