Community Trace: Rapid Establishment of a Volunteer Contact Tracing Program for COVID-19s

Linda Niccolai, PhD, ScM; Tyler Shelby, BS; Brian Weeks, MSPH; Christopher Schenck, BS; Justin Goodwin, MS; Rachel Hennein, BS; Meghan Rossini, MPH; Jennifer Vazquez, DNP, RN; Dorothyann van Rhijn, MD; James Meek, MPH; Maritza Bond, MPH


Am J Public Health. 2020;111(1):54-57. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Contact tracing was one of the core public health strategies implemented during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this essay, we describe the rapid establishment of a volunteer contact tracing program in New Haven, Connecticut. We describe successes of the program and challenges that were faced. Going forward, contact tracing efforts can best be supported by increased funding to state and local health departments for a stable workforce and use of evidence-based technological innovations.


Contact tracing, a well-known and evidence-based intervention used for infectious disease control, was one of the only feasible public health strategies during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. This activity is typically conducted by state and local health departments, but the scale of COVID-19 exceeded their capacity.