Today Pima County government announced they contracted Maximus Health & Services, Inc. to boost contact tracing efforts in the region.
Maximus is an outsourcing company that provides business support to government health agencies such as the Pima County Health Department. They will hire about 150 local residents to perform “extensive” contact tracing as directed by the health department, in order to “alert, educate and isolate” individuals who have come in close contact with a person who is COVID-19 positive.
Pima County said this partnership will dramatically expand its current contact tracing system, at a time when Arizona is experiencing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases.
“One of the key components of our response to this outbreak that has been difficult to ramp us has been the hours and hours of people power it takes to do this type of work and the systems it takes to support that staff,” said Health Department Director Dr. Theresa Cullen in a statement. “We look forward to being able to quickly take advantage of the experience, capacity, and planning Maximus will be able to provide.”
Pima County will pay $10 million to Maximus for a six-month contract, which has “multiple extension options” in three-month increments that will allow the county to reduce or expand the scope of the contact tracing system as needed.
By hiring new contact tracers that live in Pima County, Cullen said they wanted to bring jobs to the region and “capitalize on a sense of community and diversity.” The work will begin this week, and more information about applying for job openings with Maximus is expected to be released soon.
Contact tracing has proven to be a very important tool in fighting COVID-19. Contact tracers reach out to people who may have been exposed to the virus, ask them questions, and provide information about the precautionary steps they should take. This can include asking people to self-quarantine as well as any other individuals they have been in close contact with.
To assist with these efforts, the health department is asking people who are contacted by their office to answer their questions and follow the guidance provided to them.
Pima County is encouraging people to be prepared and think about the places and people they recently visited, and even take notes. Any information a person shares with the contact tracing team is confidential and protected by law.
If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should stay at home and self-quarantine for 14 days, starting from the most recent day that you were possibly exposed.
For more information on contact tracing, visit www.pima.gov/covid-19.