At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis following up on prior inquiries on the state’s contact tracing workforce.
This letter follows reports that after some stalls and delays, the state and county have come to an agreement that will begin the process of hiring 250-450 contact tracers in Miami-Dade.
According to public health experts from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), Miami Dade will need more than 10,600 contact tracers alone to respond to the current spread of the virus in Miami-Dade County.
“Based on this latest hiring, the county’s yet-to-be-hired 250-450 contact tracers would only meet 4 percent of the needed tracing workforce to effectively track the virus,” the congresswoman’s office insisted.
On June 8, Mucarsel-Powell sent a letter to DeSantis outlining steps that the state of Florida and local municipalities must address as communities ease COVID-19 precautions, starting with contact tracing.
The letter is below.
Dear Governor DeSantis:
I write to you today to once again inquire upon the status of Florida’s contact tracing workforce. Recent reports indicate that after significant delays, the state has agreed to supply a further 250 contact tracers to Miami-Dade through the end of the year. Based on the latest estimates, the county would have approximately 450 contact tracers through 2020.
This total falls monumentally short of the amount of tracers needed to respond to the current crisis in Miami-Dade County. According to public health experts from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the county will need over 10,600 contact tracers alone to respond to the current spread of the virus in Miami-Dade County. Based on this latest hiring, the county would only meet 4.2 percent of the needed tracing workforce to effectively contain the virus.
As you know, contact tracing is a thorough process that requires each tracer to spend significant time speaking with each confirmed case, subsequent calls with each case’s contact, and regular follow-up with every confirmed case and those who were potentially exposed. With Miami-Dade regularly reporting over 2,000 cases daily, 450 tracers falls far short of the local need.
Without a vaccine or therapeutic, we cannot effectively contain this virus without a robust public health infrastructure to test all symptomatic cases, trace and test their contacts, comfortably quarantine positive cases, and require the widespread use of masks. However, on all fronts our state’s response is lacking. I urge you to treat this situation with the urgency it requires and immediately hire more tracers needed to curb the spread of the virus in South Florida.