Education and Training for COVID-19 Response Workforce

Case Investigation 

Case investigation is a pillar of disease control. A case investigator interviews the infected person to try to assess their current health status, ensure they are able to isolate, understand their exposure, and elicit their contacts in order for public health officials to reach out to them. Case investigators usually have a healthcare or disease control background.  

Contact Tracing 

Woman using a laptopContact tracing is one of the oldest public health containment tools. It aims to identify anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person and keep them from proliferating the spread of the disease by asking them to quarantine. UPIEA has trained a diverse workforce including public librarians, city attorneys, and other redeployed state employees to carry out the work of contact tracing. 

Cultural Humility

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed profound gaps in the public health infrastructure and exacerbated the inequities that disproportionately affect certain populations, making them more susceptible to transmission of COVID-19 and other diseases. To be maximally impactful, contact tracing and case investigation need to be sensitive to the lived reality of members of affected communities. Moreover, contact tracers and case investigators need to be equipped with the core skills to deliver care that is founded on principles of cultural humility.  

UPIEA partners with members of the communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 to offer training in cultural humility. This training equips contact tracers and case investigators with the skills and awareness necessary to reduce their risk of perpetuating unconscious biases and causing distress that undermine current public health efforts.  

Outbreak Management 

Outbreak management, another public health pillar, includes infection control and prevention, epidemiological surveillance, and isolation and quarantine protocols. UPIEA offers a training module specific to outbreak management.  

Training Resources

UPIEA has a collection of training materials designed to prepare a workforce to implement disease control and pandemic response activities. These materials have been developed to train cadres with or without previous experience working in public health. These resources are meant to be used and adapted to the specific needs of a wide variety of settings and communities, with an explicit focus on ensuring that the public health training is inclusive and culturally sensitive.

Virtual Training Programs

UCSF Pandemic Initiative for Equity and Action (UPIEA) supports the California Virtual Training Academy (VTA) and the National Network of Disease Intervention Training Centers in developing COVID-19 training for contact tracers and case investigators. This mixed-methods training includes online self-study modules, live webinars with lectures, interactive methods such as role play and polls, small-group discussions and skills-development sessions. While many fully online trainings and didactic resources can be found elsewhere, UPIEA’s ensures learners are equipped with skills to deliver culturally competent, trauma-informed care, with a focus on skills development through practice and interaction, with feedback and support from experienced facilitators, during in-person or live webinar-based trainings.