Sam Houston State University partners with the state on contact tracing for COVID-19

Hiring nearly 200 positions from contact tracers to epidemiology leads

Sam Houston State University partners with the state on contact tracing for COVID-19

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (KTRE) - Sam Houston State University has joined in an effort to assist the state with contact tracing for COVID-19.

Several universities across the state are a part of the effort.

Chad Hargrave is the vice president for the University Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. He says about a month ago they secured a contract with DSHS to take part in the effort.

“Contact tracing is a large effort and it requires a critical mass of individuals to see it done appropriately and our goal is really to help the state execute that,” Hargrave said. “So like other institutions in the state, other institutions of higher education have participated, we’re happy now to also engage and try to help with the recruiting aspects.”

The position is remote and anyone throughout the state can apply. They are looking to fill about 200 positions including case investigators and contact tracers, which are part-time. Hargrave said for those positions they are looking for soft skills, people who can communicate with the public.

“As you move up toward the epidemiological lead the credentials become more important,” Hargrave said. “So the epidemiological leads need to have some sort of biology, epidemiology, or public health background.”

Hargrave’s office is the point of contact with the state. He said the school has several faculty members helping execute the program.

“They are coordinating a project manager who will oversee all of the recruiting materials, the review of resumes, and the hiring process,” Hargrave said.

Sharon Shaw, administrator for Angelina County and Cities Health District says contact tracing is a standard public health practice, imperative to stopping the spread of disease.

“With COVID-19 spreading so rapidly and being so infectious, contact tracing is extremely important. There’s not enough public health officials across the state of Texas to meet that demand. So I know that other institutions, agencies, and schools are providing training for that,” Shaw said.

Texas Health Trace is a new database contact tracers are using and the Angelina County Health District has recently begun entering data there. Shaw said they currently have one staff member trained to use the system.

“We’re still making those phone calls, we’re not waiting on the training to come to us. So we’re doing it on paper, manually, we’re still calling you at your home,” Shaw said. “And if someone calls you from Angelina Health District or a public health person saying ‘I want to talk with you about COVID-19,’ please talk to them. It helps us to understand the severity of disease. It also helps us to understand quarantine and isolation recommendations.”

Pay for the two part-time positions ranges from $12-17 per hour. For the full time position, 25-hundred to 37-hundred dollars per month.

According to the university, many of those positions have flexible schedules including evenings and weekends.

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