Lancaster County Covid-19 Press Conference

County Commissioner Craig Lehman, reads from his notes before taking the podium, during the weekly Lancaster County Covid-19 press conference at the Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center in Manheim Thursday May 21, 2020.

As Lancaster County embarks on a massive, $42 million COVID-19 testing and contact tracing initiative, the state’s largest community college is looking to lend a helping hand.

HACC, which has five campuses across Pennsylvania, including one in Lancaster, is launching a four-week contact tracer training program June 8 to support efforts in Lancaster and beyond to suppress the coronavirus pandemic.

“We responded to Governor Wolf’s call to action for a corps of civilians by developing this comprehensive training program to prepare students to properly trace contacts between people to help stop the spread of the coronavirus,” HACC President John Sygielski said in a statement.

Contact tracing, health experts say, is a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It works like this: Health care workers call those who test positive to learn with whom they’ve recently had close contact. Tracers then alert those contacts and ask them to restrict their interaction with others for two weeks, starting with the date of exposure.

Lancaster County awarded Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health a contract to ramp up tracing efforts. Lancaster General says they’ve employed more than 20 registered nurses and community health workers. More than 100 may ultimately be hired.

According to job information posted on LGHealthjobs.org, tracers need a high school diploma or equivalent and are preferred to have experience working in health care, social service or a community outreach program.

To enroll in HACC’s program, a student must be 18 or older, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and pass a background check. The course is $429, but eligible students can participate for free if they sign up for Pennsylvania CareerLink services, HACC said.

The course will be conducted in a blended format, including remote, instructor-led courses and online components, HACC said. Students will receive a certificate upon completion.

Enrollment is open for the class starting June 8, with additional start dates every two weeks.

For more information on the program, HACC is asking those who are interested to contact Abby Peslis, HACC director of corporate and business services, at alpeslis@hacc.edu.