ADPH Increases Contact Tracing Staff
The Alabama Department of Public Health is now increasing its contact tracing staff as more Coronavirus cases are confirmed everyday, but health officials say staffing isn’t the main challenge when it comes to contact tracing.
On any given day, the Alabama Department of Public Health has more than 200 people working on contact tracing. The department also now has contracts with external companies to help boost their contact tracing efforts.
“The struggle with contact tracing has always been trying to get buy-in from the public,” explained State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.
Dr. Harris says contact tracing is an important part of stopping the spread of the Coronavirus. It’s how you find out that you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive, but many people are hesitant to answer questions from the health department because of privacy concerns.
“When we identify a contact and reach out to that person, we don’t tell them who identified them, we don’t tell them who they could’ve been exposed to,” Dr. Harris shared.
Contact tracing is nothing new, the health department has done this for years with other contagious viruses, but the rapid spread of the Coronavirus has put contact tracing back in the spotlight. After a person is confirmed COVID positive, contact tracers notify anyone who has been in close contact. We asked Dr. Harris what this means for students returning to school next month.
“Those outside the household, close contact would be someone within 6 feet for 15 minutes, you can certainly imagine there would be other kids in the classroom but probably not every kid in the school,” said Dr. Harris.
With schools reopening next month, Dr. Harris says there will be obvious challenges with spacing and close contact, meaning everyone needs to be ready for confirmed cases and how they will impact the school as a whole.
If you test positive for COVID-19 you may be contacted by the health department. As part of the contact tracing process, they will ask you about who you have come into contact with recently. Those people will then be notified that they may have been exposed to Coronavirus.