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Contact Tracers


Contact tracing has been used at least since 1937 in the United States, when the U.S. surgeon general first used it to track and control the spread of syphilis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (founded in 1946), the World Health Organization (1948), and state and local public health organizations use contact tracers to help contain a variety of infectious disease outbreaks, including measles, smallpox, tuberculosis, and, most-recently, COVID-19. The COVID-19 epidemic, which sickened millions and killed hundreds of thousands of people, created a strong need for more contact tracers throughout the United States and world.

“Contact tracing helped us get a handle on Ebola and SARS,” said Dr. Seema Yasmin, director of research and education programs at the Stanford Health Communication Initiative and a former member of the U.S. Epidemic Intelligence Service, in an interview at PolitiFact, a project of The Poynter Institute. “I have never done an epidemic investigation that has not involved contact tracing.”

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