National Coalition of STD Directors

Making Contact – Scaling Up America’s Contact Tracing Workforce

When the Covid-19 pandemic first emerged in the U.S., the nation needed to stage a robust public health response. The National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) saw an immediate need for communities to tap into the Disease Intervention Specialists (DIS) who conduct contact tracing. NCSD is the association that represents the public health workforce helping states, territories and communities end the epidemic of preventable sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – and contact tracing is an essential part of this work. In 2020, most of the nation’s existing DIS were reassigned to address the Covid-19 response, but the nation also needed more DIS. NCSD worked with association members to address both the workforce shortage and the burgeoning pandemic by mounting a large-scale awareness campaign and successfully securing more than $1.3 billion from Congress to grow the DIS workforce. NCSD then supported public health leaders through the administrative steps to access the emergency funds. In partnership with another association – the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) – NCSD co-created training and professional development for newly hired contact tracers to help them understand and use the basic principles of contact tracing NCSD’s members have relied on for decades.