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UArizona students help health departments during coronavirus outbreak

Taking phone calls for UArizona Campus Health and Pima County
Posted at 6:25 AM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 09:25:55-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Students at the University of Arizona have been helping take COVID-19 related calls for Arizona health departments.

Across the country, the phones at health departments have been ringing nonstop because of the coronavirus.

"The public health departments have a lot going on and are having trouble keeping up with COVID-19," Teacher Assistant at UArizona Caitlyn McFadden said.

University of Arizona Health Sciences experts and students from the College of Pharmacy and Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health are taking the calls. They are helping the health departments in the SAFER, or Student Aid for Field Epidemiology Response class and McFadden assistant teaches.

On a normal day, students do surveys to figure out how Arizonans with food poisoning were exposed.

In 2019 SAFER conducted 681 interviews: 475 campylobacter interviews, 128 salmonella interviews, and 78 shigella interviews.

Now, they're helping learn what taking calls during a pandemic means.

"We’re working with campus health to conduct some contact tracing for UArizona students who have tested positive for COVID-19," McFadden said.

The University recently announced four members tested positive for COVID-19. Caitlyn said working during this time gives these students experience they wouldn't get otherwise.

“Helping out with the COVID-19 response helps to give students an idea of what working in public health and working in epidemiology looks like," McFadden said.

Caitlyn said they'll soon be able to help the Pima County Health Department directly with coronavirus cases in out community.