We need an army of contact tracing technicians

 

To the Editor:

There seems to be an agreement that a virtual army (potentially hundreds of thousands) of COVID-19 contact tracing technicians nationwide will be required beyond the relatively small number that the CDC is providing, to support opening the economy.

Preparing these technicians seems like a natural fit for the nation’s community college system.

I suspect that there is the need for a universal training curriculum on this topic which is investigative and reporting in nature. Successful completion of a reasonably short (multi-week) program would result in a certification of competency sparing a burden on employers.

There seems to be a consensus of need but currently a lack of committed funding at both the state and federal level. Assuming the funding challenge will be resolved, there are a lot of currently unemployed people who are looking for a job and this could have salaries commensurate with Census workers.

Eric Myers,

Sylva

 

COVID-19 response not surprising

 

To the Editor:

Today I heard a person in my community say, “The Republicans don’t care; they would rather let everybody die.” This was vis-a-vis the COVID-19 situation, but it could just as easily apply to the GOP refusal to expand Medicaid in North Carolina

The fiscal folly aside (we are paying, through our taxes, for the Medicaid expansion in other states, but not taking federal monies for it here), right now the human cost of the status quo is just too much.

Because of our employer-based healthcare system, the newly unemployed are now the newly uninsured. With a novel coronavirus making the rounds, the uninsured status of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens is an added risk in the public health crisis – people who fear medical bills might resist testing because of the cost, and may become a danger to the population if they harbor the virus, undetected, and could delay going to the ER when they get sick. Delayed care usually means a person is sicker, and risks a poor outcome and even higher hospital bills. It is a vicious cycle that must be interrupted by action from the N.C. Legislature.

Before the current pandemic crisis, 500,000 North Carolinians would have benefited from the closure of the Medicaid gap – the working poor, mainly. Now that unemployment has risen to levels not seen since the Great Depression, most certainly at least a million people stand in need of the improved access to health care that Medicaid expansion is designed to provide.

Please urge our legislators, now in Raleigh for the short session, to vote to pass Medicaid expansion now, without added-on barriers such as work requirements which add to the cost, and do nothing to improve the health of the populace. Sen. Jim Davis especially needs to hear from us on this issue; Rep. Joe Sam Queen has long advocated Medicaid expansion.

They could prove my friend wrong – perhaps there are Republicans who DO care? – and leave a positive legacy instead.

Betsy Swift,

Sylva