SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — The recent spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Shelby County is taxing the number of contact tracers trying to find people who need to be quarantined or isolated because of potential exposure.
Just weeks ago, the number of percentage of cases closed by contact investigators was 80 percent. The county health department says that the number is now down to 72 percent.
FOX13 talked to one member of the county COVID-19 Task Force about the drop.
Have questions about the spread of coronavirus? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak. CLICK HERE for more.
Dr. Jeff Warren said when you get your test results back and they are positive, make your own list of people with their contact information so when investigators call, you can speed up the process.
But he also said the health department needs to get more contact tracers on the job as soon as it can.
“You have to do the contact tracing and you have to do it quickly,” said Warren.
Warren said he is concerned that the number of closed investigations of contact tracing for people who tested positive for COVID-19 has dropped.
The Shelby County Health Department says the very large number of recent cases and their contacts have created a big challenge for the tracing team.
“I have few people that have tested positive. I’m waiting to hear for them if they have heard from the health department,” Warren said.
While the county health department is in the process of hiring 60 more investigators, Warren told FOX13 he has a solution that requires public help.
He said when a person tests positive they need to start to collect information before investigators call.
“You need to take out your phone and you need to write a list of everyone you have been around for the last five days, within six feet, for ten minutes,” he said. “You need to tell them they have been exposed and they need to quarantine.”
Warren said he believes that it will help speed up the process of getting in touch with people who need to stay put until they show no signs or symptoms of the virus.
He said he also believes that will not only closes cases faster but also stop any potential infection to others.
“Until they have enough people, we have to do this together,” said Warren.
A spokeswoman for the health department emailed FOX13 to say some of the additional contact tracers should start Thursday and the rest by the middle of the month.
As for Dr. Warren’s idea of people getting the information ready before the contact tracers call, the department said it thinks that is a good idea.
© 2020 © 2020 Cox Media Group