• This illustration shows how COVID-19 can spread via contact tracing. (courtesy: Getty Images via Fairbanks)
  • Shandy Dearth is director of undergraduate epidemiology education at the Fairbanks School. (photo courtesy: IUPUI/Fairbanks)

The city of Indianapolis is spending more $10 million of the nearly $80 million it received from the federal CARES Act to conduct contact tracing in the city.

The city has hired the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI to oversee the project. Fairbanks will hire, train and manage over 300 contact tracers to track the spread of COVID-19 in Indianapolis through the end of the year.

When a person tests positive for the novel coronavirus, a trained tracer will talk with the infected person to track down everyone they may have had close contact.

“The faster we can accomplish contact tracing, the fewer people will need to be quarantined,” said Shandy Dearth, principal investigator of the program.

Dearth says once everyone who may have had close contact with an infected individual has been identified, the contacts are informed of their potential exposure.

“We encourage people who have been exposed to someone who tests positive for the novel coronavirus to quarantine themselves to minimize transmission of the virus.”

The Fairbanks School of Public Health will recruit both part- and full-time contact tracers. Many of the part-time positions will be remote and filled by students enrolled in IU’s public health, medicine, nursing and social work programs.

Remote contact tracers will reach out to individuals by phone.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, principal investigator Shandy Dearth explains why Fairbanks is looking for tracers who speak other languages and understand cultures of non-English speaking communities.

Dearth explains what happens when a business is notified of a positive COVID case.