EUGENE, Ore. -- The University of Oregon has teamed up with Lane County Public Health to form Corona Corps, a group of student contact tracers used to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
"They're part of the county's approach and solution to try and box in the COVID-19 pandemic," Corona Corps co-director Jeff Measelle said.
Students go through approximately 20 hours of accredited public health training. On top of paid working hours, they also receive college credit for training completion, and possibly more depending on their degree.
These students are responsible for calling people who may have been exposed to the virus as well as work with case managers to provide resources for those in quarantine, such as groceries and thermometers. The group of students call more than 100 people each day.
"If someone is showing symptoms we immediately find a way to arrange testing for them where they don't need insurance," senior and student contact tracer Noa Cohen said. "It's all free. They can get there as soon as possible."
Cohen said one important aspect of the job is having continuous communication with each person in order to monitor symptoms.
There are 16 students working the program with 25 more set to join them over the next few weeks. The goal is to have 80 contact tracers by September.
Jason Davis of Lane County Public Health is already seeing the benefits.
"When you look back last weekend on Saturday and Sunday we only had 10 cases within those two days," Davis said. "A county with over 300,000 people, nearly 400,000, we only had 10 people. That's is largely due the work the University of Oregon, the Corona Corps, and certainly Lane County Public Health is doing."
According to Measelle they plan to expand their outreach. They've begun training at Central Oregon Community College. Measelle says this program could be a litmus test for other universities.
"Our hope is this a model that other universities can use but other counties can reach out and use us as a training force, if you will," Measell said.