• Analysis of Student Roles in COVID-19 Contact Tracing and Case Investigation Efforts

      Hernandez, Arlette; Batten, Ashley; Thomas, Joy (2021)
      In December of 2019, Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first identified in Wuhan, China and would be marked as the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and is most commonly transmitted via person to person through exposure to respiratory droplets. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued an agency-wide response that involved several guidelines for local Health Departments to implement disease tracking strategies to mitigate the spread of the virus. The practice of contact tracing has been continuously supported as a procedure for the control of low-prevalence infectious diseases by identifying individuals who may have been exposed to a person with suspected or confirmed infection of a pathogen. In the COVID-19 response, the "contacts" of confirmed COVID-19 cases were referred by public health authorities to isolate or quarantine themselves during their possible infectious period. In April of 2020, Mercer University's Department of Public Health informed their Master of Public Health student body of their partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health. Since then, 18 students have participated in contact tracing across Georgia. Some students have used these opportunities for practicum completion, and some as part-time positions. Students were given the opportunity to highlight their experiences as a Contact Tracer and lend their perspective about its effectiveness in controlling the spread of COVID-19.