FARMINGTON – Local nonprofit and national service agencies are hiring for a new AmeriCorps contact-tracing program to assist public health officials in tracking the spread of the coronavirus.
Conservation Legacy and Community Resource Center announced they were hiring 350 summer AmeriCorps Vista associates for the program, supported by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.
“We’re always engaged in national disaster response, which typically means a response to hurricanes, tornadoes and floods, but we think involving AmeriCorps members is a good opportunity and a good fit for us to do our national service work in a different avenue,” said Rob Spath, CEO of Conservation Legacy, a Durango-based nonprofit and partner in the statewide AmeriCorps contact-tracing program.
The Corporation for National and Community Service oversees the AmeriCorps program.
Public health officials say contact tracing will be key as states reopen. Tracers will interview people who test positive for COVID-19 to figure out who else might have been exposed to the virus. They then will be asked to quarantine themselves.
Amy Sovocool, chief operating officer for Conservation Legacy, said the program came together in about three weeks with help from state and national partners. Additional organizations are rallying to ensure communities are well served.
“The project engages AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps members to focus on bringing our communities back to health, well-being and economic recovery,” Sovocool said.
Vista contact tracers will call the contacts of anyone diagnosed with the coronavirus, determine exposure, assess symptoms, refer people for testing and provide instructions for isolation or quarantine.
Spath said that while typically AmeriCorps members with Conservation Legacy are “boots on the ground,” the new positions are “more technology driven.”
Each summer associate will work remotely and be supervised by a local health department in Colorado. Associates can serve between eight-, nine- or 10-week terms with service ending Aug. 28. Like other AmeriCorps positions, contact-tracing summer associates will get a choice between an education award of $1,311 or an end-of-service stipend of $345.80.
Maria Fabula, president and CEO of the Community Resource Center, said she sees AmeriCorps associates as a critical resource in recovering from disasters. Community Resource Center also is a partner agency in the contact-tracer program.
She said the organization has ramped up its recruitment process – it typically has six months to recruit and hire new AmeriCorps members. But after years of hiring AmeriCorps members, she said the organization was able to pivot and pull together a contact-tracing program.
“National service has played a role in this pandemic response, and we have experience on how to allocate those resources,” Fabula said.
Applications are still being accepting for the positions, and applicants will be reviewed as they are received.
“It’s an opportunity to be a solution for every single person in Colorado. Associates can have a wider net of impact,” Sovocool said.