$600,000 from EDD will hire those who lost their jobs during the pandemic to help prevent further outbreaks
VISALIA – After a near record high unemployment rate in April due to the coronavirus, Tulare County is offering to hire 32 people who have lost their jobs to help prevent a second wave of outbreaks.
On May 26, the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) of Tulare County announced it has received a $600,000 grant from the California Employment Development Department’s (EDD) National Dislocated Workers Grant to provide temporary employment opportunities to those who are unemployed or underemployed as a result of the pandemic. In Tulare County, the WIB, Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), and Employment Connection will collaborate to hire 32 residents impacted by COVID-19 as contact tracer trainees.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to provide an employment opportunity to some members of our community that are out of work, while also contributing to the public health fight against the pandemic,” stated Adam Peck, Executive Director of the WIB.
Contact tracing plays an important role in public health’s response to infectious disease by gathering information through interviewing and identifying potential contacts of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases. Once someone tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracers interview them to determine who they have come in contact with and then notify those people, test them, and quarantine them in their homes for monitoring by Public Health Department staff. Contact tracers are also crucial in helping COVID-19 patients get medical care, determining levels of exposure to others, and contacting individuals with potential exposure.
Currently one of the State readiness criteria for counties to advance in the stages of reopening the economy includes having 15 contact tracers per 100,000 county population. On May 19, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved a mutual aid agreement with Visalia Unified to use school nurses as contact tracers but once schools resume, more people will be needed to fill the positions they vacated. HHSA Director Tim Lutz said those hired under the grant will train to take on those positions this fall to maintain the county’s number of contact tracers.
The 32 people hired will participate in a mandated Contact Tracer training program and receive on the job training to assist TCHHSA in their efforts to connect with people who are COVID-19 positive. Additionally, contact tracers will continue to receive employment and job readiness support from the Employment Connection as the contact tracer jobs are only temporary during the pandemic.
Individuals interested in applying for one of the Contact Tracer Trainee positions can apply online at www.employmentconnect.org or call the Employment Connection at 559-713-5190.