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CCBC to partner with Baltimore County to offer contact trace investigator training, privacy advocates express concern

ESSEX, MD—The Community College of Baltimore County will be partnering with Baltimore County government to create an online training program for contact trace investigators, but some are concerned about the privacy aspects of such a program.

Contact trace investigators work with individuals who have suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, helping to identify others with whom they have had close contact during the time they may have been infectious.

Federal and state guidelines have indicated that significant contact tracing capacity will be a critical component of any efforts to reopen businesses and other institutions, and this training will allow individuals to become proficient in the field as these types of jobs begin to become available.

This training will not only give potential investigators the tools they need to determine connections, but will also discuss the need for cultural and societal sensitivity during the process. The course will first roll out to Baltimore County employees.

Course topics include:

  • How the coronavirus is transmitted.
  • Typical course of the illness.
  • How contact tracing can reduce the transmission of the coronavirus.
  • Best practices when talking to exposed contacts.

The primary training component will be an online course that is free to participants and involves about three hours of self-paced instruction. Individuals who complete the course will still be required to complete any other training requirements set forth by an entity that hires them. CCBC will offer this introductory course to the public beginning May 4 and continuing throughout the end of June. To register, visit CCBC QuickReg. For more information or registration assistance, contact 443.840.4700 or email ceed@ccbcmd.edu.

Baltimore County’s Department of Health and Human Services anticipates a need to hire 60 additional contact trace investigators by July 2020 to fill temporary positions. In Baltimore County.  Those positions will require at least an associate degree or equivalency, as well as proven experience in customer service, strong communication skills, and knowledge of community resources. The county will also seek to fill a number of the positions with individuals who speak both English and Spanish.

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Interested applicants should visit the Baltimore County government Career Opportunities web page for a detailed contract trace investigator job posting and the most up-to-date information on available positions.

The potential use of contact tracing has sparked a firestorm of criticism from privacy advocates in recent weeks. Special smartphone apps could help to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but such moves could also have profound implications for individual privacy in the long term.

Apple and Google recently revealed a joint initiative to develop contact-tracing technology for government health agencies. Using Bluetooth, contact-tracing applications are designed to identify potential COVID-19 hotspots – and alert people if they’ve been in close contact with someone known to be displaying coronavirus symptoms, according to ZDNet.

Apple and Google have issued a response to some of these privacy concerns, reports WIRED.

Governor Larry Hogan will be holding a 5 p.m. news conference on Wednesday to discuss Phase 1 of the Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery.  Some anticipate that contact tracing may be a part of the initial phase.

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