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Louisiana hiring 700 coronavirus contact tracers, governor says

The tracers' jobs will be to call people who have tested positive for the virus and track down whoever they've potentially exposed.

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana's efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 will also bring in new jobs.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state is recruiting 700 people to help with contact tracing, the process of determining who might have been expose to the virus in order to contain the spread. 

Medical experts agree contact tracing is key to safely re-opening states' economies.

Workers would be trained to call individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and create a timeline of how long they have been contagious. They would then find out who else has been in close contact, and work to have those people tested and probably quarantined. 

Edwards said to expect a update on this process on Friday, May 8. 

RELATED: Coronavirus tracing could be the key to re-opening the economy

“We do know that about 40 percent of people who are giving COVID to others do not have symptoms, so we need to be able to test beyond just people who are sick,” Dr. Rebekah Gee, the former state health secretary, said.

Edwards has a goal of 200,000 COVID-19 tests per month in Louisiana.

Dr. Gee now heads the LSU Health Services Division.

She said even with stepped-up testing and contact tracing in place, we need a Coronavirus vaccine or an effective treatment before we can do everything just like we used to do it.

“We’ve got to be careful because we don’t want to lose all of the gains from all of this work, we’ve all done and go back to the point where we were several weeks ago where we were two ventilators away from being out of ventilators at one of our hospitals,” Gee said. “

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