Triad public health leaders looking for more contact tracers as delta variant continues to spread

Coronavirus

(WGHP) — Triad public health departments are looking to bring more contact tracers on board to track the spread of the surging delta variant.

In Guilford County, Dr. Iulia Vann said Wednesday she hopes to add about 10 tracers to the existing 20 in the area.

“As we’re seeing the number of cases going up every week, almost every week, they’re doubling we might be in a position in the next few weeks to start using that priority algorithm,” she said.

Contact tracers have been able to reach every positive case so far without prioritizing high-risk cases like those in congregate living settings, and children in classrooms.

Vann said she is relieved case numbers have not climbed to the heights we experienced in January and February.

“However, at that time with 45 team members prioritizing approximately 12 to 1,500 new cases a day, we’re definitely in a different environment right now. We are seeing increases in cases, but right now we’re still at about 125, 150 new cases a day. We’ve only had just a couple of days where we went above 200,” she said.

In Forsyth County, Public Health Director Joshua Swift is looking for seven more tracers to add to their team of 15.

“The last week of June, we had 37 cases and the second week of August, we had over a thousand cases. So where you’ve seen a drastic uptake in the number of cases. So we’re trying to staff up to make sure we’re ready and able to handle that caseload,” Swift said.

He explained the county is now able to notify people by text or email of possible exposure, tools public health departments didn’t have last spring and summer.

“When they’re notified, there’s a place for people when they’re a positive to list their contacts as well, so, that’s a great way because it’s more efficient and it’s more effective to use that,” Swift said.

A spokesperson for Davidson County Public Health Department said the county hopes to double their contact tracers from four to eight.

Randolph County Public Health works with Carolina’s Contact Tracing Team with 17 contact tracers. RCPH has requested 7 additional non-clinical CCTC staff to assist with contact tracing, according to the health director.

Alamance County has five contact tracers provided by the state. A spokesperson said they hope to add a few more, but did not provide a specific number.

A spokesperson with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services provided a statement reading in part:

“There are more than 1,368 full-time and part-time staff supporting contact tracing efforts at the LHD level, including more than 750 Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) contact tracers. We are continuing to build our workforce and will expand based on the need. At the peak, we had more than 2,400.”

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