Contact tracing ramps up as COVID-19 cases spike in Louisiana

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In this Tuesday, May 19, 2020, photo, health investigator Mackenzie Bray sits in her office at the Salt Lake County Health Department in Salt Lake City. Bray normally works to track contacts for people with sexually transmitted diseases, but she was re-assigned during the coronavirus pandemic. She is now one of 130 people at this county health department assigned to track down COVID-19 cases in Utah’s urban center around Salt Lake City. The investigators, many of them nurses, each juggle 30 to 40 cases that can include a total of several hundred people. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

LDH says tracers reach about 60% of people with positive cases

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDSU) — If you tested positive for COVID-19, researchers with the Office of Public Health are hoping to speak with you over the phone.

Contact tracing has been ramped up in the last couple of weeks in Louisiana as positive cases continue to trend upward. Tracers will call those who have tested positive to see who they have been in close contact with in an effort to stop community spread. Health officials tell WDSU they have been able to get a response from only 60% of the people they call to ask about their positive tests – many of them in fear of answering an unknown number, receiving a spam call or being asked to provide sensitive information.

“All of the information that’s given is held under the strictest HIPPA compliance security,” says Dr. Omar Khalid, Chief of Staff at Office of Public Health. “It’s never shared with anyone. The person who may have exposed you…their identity will never be revealed to you.”

Dr. Khalid also wants to remind people that contact tracing has been around for decades – a process used to treat and prevent tuberculosis and other infectious diseases in Louisiana and across the United States.

If you do get a call from the Office of Public Health, it will always be from this toll-free number: 1-877-776-2130.

Tracers will always clearly identify themselves, and only ask about information related to your COVID-19 infection. They may also use text message or email as a form of communication.

By: Sherman Desselle

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