Georgia ramps up contact tracing hires to help slow spread of coronavirus

In this Wednesday, May 13, 2020 photo, Maria Fernanda works on contact tracing at the Florida Dept. of Health in Miami-Dade County, during the new coronavirus pandemic, in Doral, Fla. In state after state, the local health departments charged with doing the detective work of running down the contacts of coronavirus patients are falling well short of the number of people needed to do the job. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The Georgia Department of Public Health hopes to have more than 1,000 contact tracers in the next few weeks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

Contact tracing is used to identify and mitigate hotspots of infection to help prevent further spread of the virus.

The contact tracers interview people who test positive for the virus and gain information about their contacts with other people in recent weeks. Then they try to find and speak to those people, many of whom likely don't know they had been in contact with someone who later tested positive.

Georgia has about 250 contact tracers throughout the state. The tracers have talked to more than 3,800 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and been able to identify nearly 13,000 people who were in contact with those who tested positive.