COLLEGE STATION, TX — “Hi this is Andrea with the Texas A&M Covid Operation Center, how are you doing?"
As a Master's student with Texas A&M School of Public Health, Andrea Diartee, has been working to slow the spread of COVID-19 here in the Brazos County Community as a contact tracer. Her work includes calling close contacts to those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
“So the reason I was calling you today is because it came to our attention that we were in close contact with someone that was diagnosed positive for COVID-19, were you aware of this?"
“I like to think I am being apart of this crazy new pandemic, this COVID-19, that everyone is seeing for the first time and I am actually on the ground here helping to try to make a difference every day,” says Diartee.
Here at The COVID Operations Center, better known as the co-op at A&M’s Health Science Center, contact tracers like Diartee work with the COVID Investigators who contact individuals who have tested positive to get a hold of their close contacts.
“I am calling these people who may or may not know that they’ve been exposed and giving them that information. When we do receive those contact information from the cases who they have been in close contact with, when we call those people we do not let them know who they were in contact with that is a HIPAA violation its totally confidential,” says Diartee.
In any given shift, contact tracers contact between 15-25 individuals. Diartee says while getting a hold of people can be challenging in the modern day of spam calls, once they get a hold of the close contacts, their main focus is helping people understand what their next steps should be.
“Some people might not have known, so they have some questions that they are asking. What they should be looking out for? Where they can be getting tested?... and what test we recommend like the PCR swabs that we have here at campus. It’s just a matter of getting those people that information,” says Diartee.
As COVID cases continue to fluctuate throughout the community, the co-op would not be able to provide the services if it wasn’t for the collaboration with the Brazos County Health District.
“We work under the authority of the Brazos County Health District because they are the legal health authority. And two, this is what we believe to be the first of its kind of partnership and collaboration in the country,” says Angela Clendenin Co-Director of the Texas A&M Covid Operations and Investigation Center.
The Co-op hopes that the work they are doing here in Brazos County and for the Texas A&M System will be a blueprint for other Universities and health authorities across the country.