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McLennan County contact tracers struggle to contact everyone, causing some patients to fall through the cracks

Posted at 10:35 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 23:35:06-04

High amounts of coronavirus cases is stretching medical staff thin, including contact tracers, causing some cases to fall through the cracks.

The Waco-McLennan Public Health District says they face many challenges. One is the case load for it's contact tracers. Some patients they try to contact have the wrong contact information, while others simply do not want to cooperate with contact tracing procedures.

"It hit me out of the clear blue sky. You may think you're feeling well one minute and the next minute it's got you down. There are so many cases right now, contact tracing, there's no way they can do it," said Doug Froneberger.

The McLennan County resident says he tested positive for COVID-19, and after days of waiting, never got a call from health officials for contact tracing.

"There is the possibility if you think about it. In a day we have over 100 cases and our goal is to reach all of those," said Kelly Crane with the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.

Crane says their staff has seven epidemiologists and 20 people who are in charge of monitoring. But due to the demand, they resorted to getting help from the state health department.

"If you haven't been reached, it could be because we don't have the correct information or it could be because you might of fallen through the crack or we just ran out of time," said Crane.

Another issue is people not answering or cooperating with contact tracers, fearing their privacy could be jeopardized.

"There's this concern that we're going to do something with the information and really we have to build that trust. That's not our goal. Our goal is to make sure you're okay and that we can slow the spread of the disease," said Crane.

The health district is planning on hiring at least three more epidemiologists to help with the demand.

If you've tested positive and haven't had anyone call you withing 24 to 48 hours, you are asked to reach out to your local health department.