CORONAVIRUS

Iowa issues emergency request for coronavirus contact tracing help

Winning bidder, funded through CARES Act, will be announced Friday

Iowa Department of Public Health logo
Iowa Department of Public Health logo

State public health officials have released an emergency request for a vendor to aid in contact tracing as Iowa grapples with a major surge of new COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks.

The Iowa Department of Public Health on Monday announced a request-for-proposal process “due to the exponential increase in case volume.”

Proposals from interested vendors are due by the end of the day Tuesday. Officials will announce the results on Friday.

Throughout the pandemic, contact tracers have identified and then notified individuals who have come into contact with people infected with the novel coronavirus in an effort to prevent further spread.

“Due to the steady increase in case volume, the state has experienced a need for additional resources, requiring an emergency and expedited procurement to assist with COVID-19 contact tracing and case investigation,” according to the RFP on the state’s website.

The state public health agency manages contact tracing for 57 counties. The announcement did not clarify where in the state the vendor would aid public health officials.

The expedited RFP for an emergency contract would start within seven days of the award announcement on Friday. The contract would last until Jan. 31 “and will be renewed for periods of time determined to best meet the department’s needs and at the discretion of the department,” according to the RFP.

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Funding for the emergency contract will come from federal CARES Act dollars, according to the RFP, and bidders are asked to estimate the cost of up to 200 full-time employees.

Among its criteria, state officials are asking a vendor to establish a team of contract tracers able to work from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., seven days a week. Employees are expected to complete three case investigations or six contact notifications per hour.

Comments: (319) 398-8469; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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