DC Health Department lays off 131 workers, ends COVID contact tracing program
The DC Health Department ended its COVID-19 contract tracing program on Thursday, laying off 131 workers employed by the program.
“The COVID-19 Contact Trace Force has been instrumental in helping slow the spread of COVID-19 in the District of Columbia,” DC Health told The Hill. “However with COVID infection levels coming down and easier access to at-home testing kits, the COVID-19 Contact Trace Force is no longer as effective or vital a tool as it was during the peak of the pandemic.”
The District of Columbia government currently considers COVID-19 infection levels in the area “low,” the most recent weekly case rate coming in at 195.9 for the week of June 19 to 25 and the most recent hospital admission rate at 0.4 percent.
DC Health emphasized that its department gave advance notice of the end of the trace force and aided its employees in finding new roles.
“DC Health provided contact tracers with opportunities to learn more about new positions and even a career fair,” a spokesperson told The Hill, adding that many will continue to work in DC government and disease investigation.
The DC government will continue operating its mobile contact tracing system despite the closure of its overall contact tracing program, allowing DC residents to opt in for notifications about potential exposure to COVID-19.
“The DC CAN digital exposure notification system for mobile devices will remain in place and fully supported, and DC Health will continue to monitor the spread of diseases in the community, including COVID-19, and provide consultative services to high-risk facilities,” wrote the department.