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Texas Health Districts up their game on contact tracing

How you can help stop the rise in COVID cases
Posted at 5:58 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 19:53:01-04

As the number of COVID-19 cases rise in Texas, health districts have upped their game in contact tracing, tracking down everyone with whom a COVID-19 patient has had contact in the last two weeks from their onset of symptoms.

But many of us, like Keith Nolan, may not remember everyone on that list.

"If we asked you, who have you been in contact with, 6 feet or closer, in the last two weeks, could you tell us?" asked 25 News.

"Not off the top of my head, no sir," replied Nolan.

That information has become more important now, than ever. Why?

Here's what the Director of the Bell County Public District had to say:

"You should assume anyone around you may have it. It's that bad. There are a number of people asymptomatic and we're seeing the rates have increased dramatically enough," said Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell.

Dramatically enough that the McLennan County Health District, for instance, has tripled the number of investigators tracking down people with COVID-19.

"We had three people doing that, we've expanded it to 9, and that's their entire job. They're part of the health district staff and for 8 hours a day they're doing that investigation portion of it," said Kelly Craine of the Waco - McLennan County Public Health District.

Once investigators identify all of a COVID patient's close contacts, another team takes over.

"We have expanded to 20 monitors. Their job is a little different, their job is to call every day and reach out to those people that are direct contacts that have been asked to quarantine and those who are sick, just to do a quick health check," Craine explained.

This is all to stop so-called "community spread" of the virus, from which we have no place to hide.

"We've had people ask questions about is it safe to go here or there or wherever. We can't say that, because it is legitimately everywhere in the community and that's what community spread means," said Dr. Chadwell.

So what can we do? Limit our contacts, stay at home, and more...Keith Nolan may even start keeping a diary.

"At least writing down your interactions and that way if you needed to go b back and see oh, I interacted with this person, I would know," he said.

Here’s the bottom line: experts say contact tracing works, but as it has from the beginning of this pandemic, they say only we Texans can control the spread of the coronavirus by following the rules, which by now, we should know... from memory.