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Reopening after coronavirus could require thousands more public health workers
Safety, health of workers during coronavirus is ‘paramount’: National Association of Manufacturers CEO
National Association of Manufacturers president and CEO Jay Timmons anticipates his upcoming call with President Trump regarding reopening the economy and the safety of American workers.
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Before Washington state lifts its stay-at-home order, public health workers in Seattle's King County want to be ready to douse any new sparks of infection.
That task, they say, requires at least 20 more investigators to call people who test positive for the coronavirus, track down their contacts and get them into quarantine. Without the extra help, the workers insist, the state can't possibly be ready to resume normal everyday activities.
"We are trying to build these teams and processes in the midst of a crisis," county health spokeswoman Sharon Bogan said.
The challenge extends well beyond Seattle. As federal officials weigh how and when to reopen the country, experts say the United States does not have enough public health workers to suppress another outbreak, especially those qualified to do contact tracing, the critically important effort to find people who may have been exposed to the virus.
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The work could require as many as 300,000 public health workers — a daunting number given that the combined federal, state, and local public health workforce has been shrinking and is now probably less than 280,000, according to some estimates.