$23 Million to Staffing Agency for Covid-19 Contact Tracing


The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Dept. of Health announced on July 31  that it had contracted with the Atlanta based staffing agency,“Insight Global”for nearly $23 million. The contract calls for them to recruit, interview, hire, train, and support 1,000 new Covid-19 contact tracers.Great! That is what we do! And there should be a lot more of this kind of work which seems ideal for temporary staffing companies.

George Washington University’s Institute for Health Workforce Equity has created a tool for estimating the number of “contact tracers” needed on a state by state basis. To use the tool (at the link above) just scroll over the state to get the estimates and demographics for that state. To see how their calculations were made, they have a chart to the left of the map that estimates the Work capacity (caseload etc.).

They estimate that Pennsylvania will need 4,800 Contact Tracers (CT’s), and the total number CT’s needed nationally will be 50,800. (figure includes one supervisor for every 10 contact tracers). Some estimates have the needed CT’s at 100,000! Obviously, we will need a lot more CT’s in states like California, Texas, and Florida than in Wyoming and Maine.

“Contact Tracing”, together with much more rapidly available testing results, is key to the successful opening of businesses, schools, sporting events, and even to insure the safety of our homes to extended family and friends.

In May, Congress appropriated $25 billion for Covid Testing and the new round of funding includes more funds for testing and contact tracing even though 32% of what was allocated in May, has not yet been spent (about 8 billion). So, there should be sufficient funds to have a very robust and effective Contact Tracing program.

Also, there seems to be sufficient time for staffing companies to go after this work. The “Insight Global”contract with Pennsylvania just began and its timeline is to Onboard the first 250 CT’s, of the one thousand CT’s, by August 17th. Additionally, Pennsylvania seems to be delaying the start of its CT program until the fall. They do not explain why but it may be related to the current Covid-19 test turnaround time which needs to improve for the contact tracing to be effective.

This has been an ongoing problem related to the technology of the type of tests being used which require both time and special materials   to process. More rapid tests are available now but in extremely limited quantities. This should improve rapidly and make contact tracing much more effective and, therefore, more widely used.

Staffing companies who are interested in contracting this work might start by reviewing the Covid-19 Contact Tracing training modules available from and through the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

It is interesting and helpful to note that, although qualifications may vary from state to state to be a “contact tracer”, the basic qualification is a high School diploma or equivalent (According to the Covid-19 contact tracing educational program put out by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)

Other Possible Staffing Company Opportunities presented by this “War on Covid”

  1. It may be humble work but with schools and businesses opening there is a great deal of critical sanitizing to be done in school and private buses, classrooms, cafeterias, offices, break rooms, restrooms, waiting rooms, critical surface areas, etc. This could yield months of contracted work while making a significant contribution to getting this virus under control.
  2. We know that getting back to work will cause some increase in worker infections.We hope this will be minimal. But, because of this, temporary workers may need to cover for them as they recover.
  3. Also, other employees may simply be unable to come back right away. For example, a family with two children at home because their school did not open, or it shut down for a time. Their new“virtual classroom”will need parental supervision, so mothers or fathers will need to be replaced temporarily.
  4. Some workers may have an increased vulnerability to the virus because of a medical condition, which, under normal circumstances, would not be a problem. But that condition, confirmed by their doctor, would constitute a legitimate medical reason to be absent until the situation becomes normalized. They too may need to have temporary replacements.
  5. Segments of the economy that are doing particularly well during this crisis like warehousing, delivery, cleaning, construction, and certain manufacturing companies in critical industries, may need more help, and right now! Your market area is sure to have some of these industries.
  6. Although I am aware of the mixed feelings there may be about those huge Gig Economy “cloud-based” platforms, they have the ability to expand your offerings, and, at prices that will allow a very decent profit. For more information see my earlier blog post titled “Increasing Staffing Company Profits with the Gig Economy

Finally, although the pain and uncertainty are still with us, there are also some unique opportunities related to this pandemic that can keep the doors open until it is over. And, it does not need to be completely “over”. We want it to be at least more manageable, more treatable, more preventable, and certainly much less hair-raising!I am really looking forward to that!