TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A statewide effort is underway to hire nearly 5,000 contact tracers and case investigators.

Contact tracers call people who tested positive for COVID-19. Then, they reach out to anyone with whom the patient may have interacted with during the previous 14 days.

The method is used to understand and slow the spread of the virus by notifying possible “contacts,” encouraging self-isolation, and providing information about testing.

“How else would you know unless there are people who are actively working to contact you?” said Laurie Larrea, the president of Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas.

Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas is helping to recruit thousands of workers, in conjunction with Texas Workforce Commission and the state health department.

“I think we’ll get 5,000 applications in a heartbeat,” said Larrea. “How long it takes to process, screen, hire and train is a matter for the incoming employer.”

Ultimately, most employees will likely work for private companies. Benefits will vary.

The state is searching for 4,000 to 5,000 workers. The virtual jobs are temporary. Pay ranges between $14/hour and $19/hour.

Candidates will soon be able to apply at workintexas.com, wfsdallas.com, or their local Workforce Solution website.

The postings will go live sometime this week, according to Francisco Gamez, a spokesman for the Texas Workforce Commission.

“If you have a customer service background, if you’re used to talking to people, gaining their trust, that’s far more critical than anything else. It’s exchange of information,” Larrea said.

Because the gigs are virtual, employees can work anywhere in Texas.

Larrera said spots will be filled on a first come, first serve basis, so people should apply as soon as possible.

“I think for young adults specifically who think, ‘Well, I don’t want to go back to what I was doing,’ I think this becomes part of a career path,” she said.

Larrea said formal medical experience helps but is not required.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED.

The Texas Workforce Commission will provide initial online training components, according to Gamez.

Agencies are directing interested applicants to training resources offered by John Hopkins University.

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