28 minutes | Jul 22nd 2020

15: A Crash Course in Contact Tracing

How much do you really know about contact tracing? And would you have what it takes to be a successful contact tracer? Dr. Joshua Sharfstein of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health takes listeners through the essential ins and outs of contact tracing during a public health crisis like COVID-19.

For more information and full episode transcription go to Contagious Conversations (www.cdcfoundation.org/conversations).

About Dr. Sharfstein:

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein is the vice dean for public health practice and community engagement, as well as professor of practice in health policy and management, at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Sharfstein is also director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. His previous roles have included secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, principal deputy commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, commissioner of health for Baltimore City, and health policy advisor for Congressman Henry A. Waxman.


Key Takeaways:

[1:26] Dr. Sharfstein shares what motivated him to join the field of public health. [2:21] Dr. Sharfstein talks about his favorite aspect of being a pediatrician. [3:22] Dr. Sharfstein taught a course titled “Crisis and Response in Public Health Policy and Practice” and he shares the most common questions his students had as the pandemic unfolded. [6:14] Dr. Sharfstein’s steps to follow while in a health crisis: acknowledge there is a crisis; communicate consistently; have knowledgeable people as the lead communicators; and centralize a response process where everybody knows their role. [7:45] Dr. Sharfstein shares his perspective on how COVID-19 has influenced people to get a better understanding of the role of public health workers. [9:36] The core functions of a contact tracer. [11:38] What kind of infrastructure is needed to help contact tracers? [13:10] Dr. Sharfstein talks about the biggest misconceptions about contact tracers. [13:46] A contact tracer is someone from the health department who is reaching out to help you and the people around you to stay safe. [14:40] Where are contact tracers needed the most? [16:29] Key skills to be a successful contact tracer. [18:42] Dr. Sharfstein shares some of the successes seen in combating public health emergencies using contact tracing. [21:35] Public health is collaborative work. [22:33] Key leaders who need to be part of the collaborative work in public health. [23:26] Public Health On Call is a podcast produced by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. [26:24] Dr. Sharfstein’s advice to the future public health leaders of America.


Mentioned in This Episode:

CDC Foundation

Visit CDC.gov for information about COVID-19