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Brazos Valley creates COVID center to focus on contact tracing, managing impact during surge

Virus Outbreak Contact Tracing
Posted at 11:05 AM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 12:05:01-04

BRAZOS COUNTY, TX — With COVID-19 positive cases in the Brazos Valley reaching record highs, the Brazos County Health District has formalized a collaborative approach to “boxing in” the positive cases and those with whom they had contact.

“Case investigation of all positive cases, collecting information on their symptoms and facilitating contact tracing to encourage isolation and best practices for managing the virus, are among the most important efforts we have to combat the pandemic, today,” said Santos Navarrette, Director of the Brazos County Health District.

With only one full-time epidemiologist on staff, the Health District has been relying on specially assigned support from the state, repurposing of district staff, and faculty and student volunteers from the Texas A&M School of Public Health.

The newly formed Brazos Valley COVID Investigation Operations Center will confirm and support positive cases, conduct contact tracing, provide access to resources for those impacted, and promote best practices for managing the impacts of the virus.

The Health District has partnered with Brazos Valley Workforce Solutions to identify funding sources from the Texas Workforce Commission. The funding will allow for the hiring of up to 54 positions, including contact tracers, case investigators, and epidemiologists. The positions are targeted to those dislocated workers due to COVID-19 economic impacts, those seeking a new career opportunity, and those of varying age groups or veteran status who are looking for a good wage job opportunity that helps the community.

New personnel will be assigned to work with Texas A&M faculty and staff at the Operations Center at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center facilities. Through a unique interagency agreement, Texas A&M is invested in creating an operations center space, information technology access for calling, and secure areas to conduct the investigations. Public Health faculty will help to select, train, and manage the personnel in best practices, ensuring local cases receive the very best information in a timely fashion. Dr. Angela Clendenin, Assistant Professor of Public Health, is serving as the Operations Center Project Manager.

Blinn College has joined the collaboration through an additional interagency agreement with Texas A&M to support the tracing of Blinn students, faculty, and staff during the pandemic.

“This collaboration is supporting public health during this crisis, while also creating jobs and ensuring economic recovery in our region by creating confidence in higher education officials, business leaders and visitors that we can operate a process to manage the impacts of the virus,” said Duane Peters, Brazos County Judge and 2020 Chair of the Brazos Valley Council of Governments.

All positions are posted online at www.WorkinTexas.com . Interested applicants, must register as a job seeker and then apply to one of the following position links and/or by searching for “Brazos County Health District”.