ADPH using 120 contact tracers to track COVID-19

ADPH using 120 contact tracers to track COVID-19

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Alabama Department of Public Health is using an estimated 120 personnel to map COVID-19 in a state, which as of this writing, has had more than 8,000 positive cases.

The personnel make phone calls to COVID-19 patients and their close contacts to see where the virus could be going.

Department spokesperson Dr. Karen Landers said the group is handling the workload, but the department is looking at options to expand.

In an email to WAFF, Landers wrote:

“ADPH continues to utilize public health employees from various disciplines including [Tuberculosis] Control, STD, HIV, Immunization, and other programs. ADPH also uses some medical students and prehealth professional students. ADPH is looking in to additional ways to augment this staff.”

The students are working on a volunteer basis.

WAFF asked Landers if there was “Any discussion of financial incentives for people who sign up?"

She responded “At this time, ADPH is using existing public health staff and identified students.”

In comments made at the Madison County press conference on May 1, she said:

“As time goes by, the need for this will change. so we don’t want to bring on personnel so that we don’t have some function for them in the future.”

Landers said the appropriate background and training is needed to contact trace.

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“We’ve had a number of people call and say that they to volunteer to do contact tracing, but people do have to be trained to do contact tracing. It’s not necessarily as simple as saying 'I want to do it," she said.

Landers said ADPH staff are being pulled from their normal duties to train contact tracers, and online options are being considered to augment the effort.

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