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Nevada to train university students as COVID contact tracers

October 3, 2020 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Hundreds of Nevada university students will be trained and employed as contact tracers to help identify and inform people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

A $3.4 million grant from the state will pay for the 200-student program, a partnership between the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada Health District, officials said Friday.

“Applying what they have learned in the classroom and through training, our students are now at the forefront of COVID-19 prevention efforts in the community,” said Shawn Gerstenberger, dean of the UNLV School of Public Health.

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UNLV’s contact tracing team was formed in March with a core group of volunteers who have been supporting SNHD throughout the pandemic.

So far, 60 students have been trained through the grant. A team of experienced graduate students is training additional contact tracers.

The state has identified more than 20,000 coronavirus cases through contact tracing.

On Saturday, state officials reported an additional 526 known COVID-19 cases in Nevada with 11 more deaths, bringing the state’s confirmed case count to 81,708 cases and 1,620 deaths.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Nevada’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases rose over the past two weeks, but the average of daily new deaths dropped.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.