NewsLocal News


Health officials: Contact tracing is key to opening the country safely

Posted at 7:14 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 16:59:55-04

On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said reopening the country too soon can have dire consequences.

“Good identification, isolation and contact tracing will determine rather you can continue to go forward as you try to reopen America, ” Fauci said.

Contact tracing is something that is not new in the fight against diseases, but it has become one of the most important steps to combat the coronavirus.

The Tulsa Health Department has been conducting contract tracing around the clock since the first case of coronavirus appeared in Tulsa.

Leanne Stephens, the director of communications for the Tulsa Health Department, says contact tracing is sort of like a background check.

“It involves a public health professional contacting an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 and really retracing their steps," Stephens said.

Retracing travel, place of employment, or anywhere an infected person has been. The next step in the process is to contact anyone who has been in contact with the infected person.

Contact tracing has become so important it may help some who are currently unemployed find a new career path.

Across the country, some health departments are looking to fill the huge need by hiring private citizens to serve as tracers.

When coronavirus first hit Oklahoma, the state only employed three epidemiologist. Stephens says that has tripled.

“When we announced the first case in Tulsa back on March 6, there were three epidemiologist," Stephens said. "We’ve since expanded that team to up to 40 public health professionals to conduct trace notification, contact tracing and epidemiological investigations."

Stephens says, they reassigned current employees within the health department. No new positions were filled.

If you want to know if someone in your area has reported symptoms of COVID-19, click here to review the symptom tracker.

Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.

Download our free app for Apple and Android and Kindle devices.

Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines and Daily Forecasts.

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook