In Michigan, Some Are Being Asked To Do Own Contact Tracing

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Health departments in Michigan are so overrun with covert 19 cases that they're asking people to do their own contact tracing Brett Dahlberg reports. There are similar do it yourself public health efforts taking place across the country. Contact tracers in Washington County arm or slammed than they've ever been. There's just so many more people that are gathering and then are exposed. Madeline back Allure is a contact tracer for the county, which includes an armor, so it used to be. You know, we'd have a case and maybe that person had seen two people and now it's a whole classroom full of daycare students or it's a whole workplace. Contact traces get in touch with anyone who's been exposed to a person who tested positive for the novel Coronavirus. Racers. Tell those people about their exposure and walk them through how to quarantine. I call people who have been exposed but who don't have symptoms yet. On dry to keep them away from healthy people who have not been exposed. But the number of exposures is piling up faster than contact tracers can make those calls. And recently, the federal government shortened the recommended quarantine period from 14 days to 10 days. But in Michigan that only applies to some people in some counties, and now they have to explain that too. Yeah, it makes things more confusing. Not only that, but they're making twice as many calls as they did earlier this year, so the Health Department has tried to shorten the time that they spend talking with Cove in 19 patients by getting rid of some interview questions. They're sacrificing information for speed, but they're still not able to keep up. And that's true in hard hit places across the country from Virginia to Oregon on the brink of being overwhelmed. Local public health departments have been forced to try something new. They're asking people to basically do their own contact. Tracing Susan Ringler Cerniglia is the spokesperson for the Wash, not County Health Department in Michigan. She says people who test positive for the virus should start telling their contacts right away. Basically, you know what to do. Don't wait for us to call you because the department can't call everyone. Ringler Cerniglia says they're prioritizing calls. People like the county's oldest residents, those living in nursing homes and people who live in ZIP codes with the highest infection rates, But that means some people outside of those groups won't get calls at all. Public health professor Angela Beck says. That kind of prioritization is a good response to a bad situation. It is a last resort tool. It's not the ideal scenario. Is it better than nothing? Yes, I think it is back is an expert on public health work forces at the University of Michigan, she says. Cutting back on contact Tracing calls means health officials will miss information on where outbreaks are happening and who's at risk. The lose chances to break transmission chains and slow the virus is spread, Beck says. Without enough contact tracers to track the virus at an individual level. The only option left to contain it is a generalized approach. That's part of what's pushing governments toward really broad restrictions, like shutting down into our dining and requiring schools to go online. She says This failure was predictable, the result of years of poor funding of health departments. The chronic under investments in the public health infrastructure in our country has really cost us during covert 19. We can see the consequences very clearly back, and public health officials still want people to focus on the basics like masks and physical distance. And they still want you to answer contact Tracing calls. Just don't be surprised if the person who calls to say you've been exposed is a friend or relative

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