Contact tracers face challenges as they prepare for a surge of cases after Thanksgiving

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Contact tracers in the Miami Valley are already overwhelmed with the number of cases coming in each day, now they’re preparing for an expected surge from Thanksgiving.

Wright State University’s team of 50 contact tracers are trying to keep up with the already increasing cases, providing over 450 hours of contact tracing a week to five counties.

“We’ve had to increase the number of contact tracers we’re having per day, we’ve had to ask people to work after their shifts and take measures like that to make sure we can handle the heavier case loads,” Wright State Contact Tracing Project Manager Camille Edwards said.

To get more done in a day, they’ve been working with counties to adjust the process, and have cut the time a contact tracing call takes in half.

“We’ve made adjustments to the inteview process, adjustments to how we’re handling close contacts, and just reprioritizing everything so that we can be prepared to handle that surge in cases,” Edwards said.

Dayton montgomery county public health has 100 trained contact tracers. There’s currently around 1,000 people who still have to be contacted, and that’s before an expected Thanksgiving surge.

Dan suffoletto: “We were getting to the point where it’s very difficult to keep up with that number of cases and contact the people in a timely manner,” Public Health Public Information Supervisor Dan Suffoletto said.

Suffoletto said reaching out to contacts is taking longer at this time, so if you test positive for COVID-19, don’t wait until Public Health contacts you.

“You can begin contacting those close contacts, and then they can be aware of the situation, and they can begin the self-quarantine procedure,” Suffoletto said.

Cedarville University associate professor and infectious disease expert Dr. Zach Jenkins said with how widespread COVID-19 is, it’s likely contact tracers will become even more strained.

“You have places like Butler County in Ohio that are discussing this possibility of having their contact tracers focus on just the people who are positive, as opposed to the people who have been exposed,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said it will likely be about seven days from last weekend when we’ll start seeing an impact, and then a week after that before hospitalizations tick up.

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