President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris have set forth a seven-point plan to “beat COVID-19 and get our country back on track.” It includes a colossal contact tracing program and a call for a new public health workforce to implement it.
What is the plan?
The incoming administration’s COVID-19 strategy is part of a broader re-opening plan. Several measures are proposed to jumpstart the American economy, from doubling the number of drive-thru testing sites to investing in “next-generation testing,” including at-home tests. And they are drawing lessons from former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s War Production Board, calling for a Pandemic Testing Board to produce and distribute tens of millions of tests.
In addition, contact tracing will be massively increased.
“Contact tracing is a core component of a robust nationwide data-driven disease surveillance system,” the incoming administration notes. To make it happen, Biden and Harris want to build a national contact tracing workforce. They’re calling it the U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps.
What is the Public Health Jobs Corps?
The Biden-Harris plan hopes to address the widespread unemployment caused by the pandemic and the need for skilled labor by mobilizing at least 100,000 people to support the public health response to COVID-19. This includes extending contact tracing to reach every community in America.
This new public health workforce will need to reflect the communities they serve to ensure that they create trust and are as effective as possible. So the plan will require close coordination with state, tribal, and local leaders to provide culturally competent approaches to contact tracing and protect at-risk populations.
How will it work?
The first members of the U.S. Public Health Job Corps would come from volunteers from AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, and others who have been laid off due to the crisis. They would be tapped to implement large scale testing programs and contact tracing.
The initiative would be modeled after the longstanding federal Job Corps, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which comprises 6,000 professionals dedicated to delivering the nation’s public health promotion and disease prevention programs and advancing public health science.
After the pandemic, the corps would be retained but deployed to address other public health problems such as the opioid epidemic.
How can technology help?
A giant pool of skilled labor is only one part of a nationwide contact tracing initiative. To ensure efficiency and privacy, public health agencies will need to turn to tools like the Paubox Email API to send HIPAA compliant email at scale.
Our flexible, secure API can strengthen the fight against COVID-19 and is a digital contact tracing technology (DCTT) that aligns with the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response plan. It fits best practices established for COVID-19 digital contact tracing established by Johns Hopkins University.
Nick Wong, software developer at Paubox, recently presented how to use the Paubox Email API to combat COVID-19 at our recent virtual healthcare cybersecurity conference, Paubox SECURE @ Home.
“These are two different strategies used to fight COVID, but both can use Paubox’s seamless and secure email API to save lives,” Wong said.