1. Most states’ contact tracing workforce falls short of need
Only a handful of states currently have enough public health workers to investigate their coronavirus cases, according to an NPR analysis. This has been the case each time NPR has surveyed states. This time, only Oregon and Vermont and Washington, D.C. have enough. Four more states — Maine, Montana, New York, and Hawaii — have enough when reserve staff are included. And 44 states fall short of need.
The analysis, based on state case counts over the past 14 days, was done using an estimating tool developed by The Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity at the George Washington University. As in June and August, NPR assumed workers are calling 10 contacts per case and that tracers reach 45% of contacts and follow up with them every other day — a conservative estimate, to reflect the real-world challenges health workers face.