NDSU trains students on contact tracing to help manage COVID-19 in North Dakota

The university has created a contract with the State health department to train students

FARGO, N.D. — The North Dakota State department of health has received some reinforcement from students at NDSU.

The students will assist in contact tracing, one of the main techniques used to manage outbreaks.

“This is completely outside of classwork,” said NDSU’s chair of the Public Health Department Pamela Jo Johnson. “We created a contract with the state health department and have actually hired these students to do this work on behalf of the state department of health.”

Contact tracing involves reaching out to both positively tested individuals and anyone that they may have had close contact with.

The NDSU students have completed about 10 hours of online training where they learned how to identify close contacts, how to properly communicate with others, and to be ready for the common questions people may have about COVID-19.

Contact tracing can be a lengthy process that requires professionals to be engaged with a specific case for nearly two weeks.

“It is possible that somebody could be exposed to a positive case and not show symptoms for a full 14 days,” said NDSU Public Health graduate student Sarah Swartz. “We make sure that we extend that time frame to get anybody and everybody that might be exposed.”

Swartz says she hopes to one day have a career that involves infectious disease outbreak investigations, so having this hands-on opportunity has proven invaluable.

“I am going to be ahead of the game for any job I do accept in the future and I will have that valuable experience of contact tracing,” says Swartz. “Being apart of an outbreak investigation is pretty priceless.”

The opportunity is not only a win for students, but also in the fight against the pandemic.

“The more people that we have, the better that we can potentially contain this,” says Johnson. “I would much rather have 1,000 people trained and not need to use most of them than to not have enough people and not be able to actually reach all the people in a timely fashion.”

NDSU has already trained 20 students and plans to train about 100 more.

Categories: Coronavirus, Coronavirus-ND, Health, Local News, North Dakota News