Contact tracers needed to keep up with COVID-19 case increase

Virus Outbreak Variant
Posted at 6:07 PM, Aug 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 22:45:58-04

San Luis Obispo County contact tracers are trying to keep up with the surge in COVID-19 cases and help stop the spread.

"Contact tracers are working as fast as they can," said Vince Pierucci, San Luis Obispo County COVID-19 Response Incident Commander.

County health officials are asking that people who test positive or were exposed to COVID-19 immediately stay home for at least 10 days rather than wait to be told to do so by a contact tracer.

Currently, eight community members in San Luis Obispo County are working to call and investigate the highest-risk cases in the region including those over the age of 50 and all healthcare workers.

"So when somebody gets a text message from the county advising them that either they have been exposed or that they are positive for COVID to click on that link and immediately work with our contact tracers," Pierucci said.

The current surge in COVID-19 cases, however, is stretching this temporary workforce, thin.

"But we're definitely looking for more," he said. "Our current case numbers are rapidly increasing because of the delta variant and we're not being able to keep up with current caseloads."

During the last COVID-19 surge, there were about 25 contact tracers of all walks of life including college students.

To keep up with rising demand, those who test positive for COVID-19 will now receive a text message with a link to complete a questionnaire, instead of a phone call.

"During the winter surge we did and now we're reimplementing that program," Pierucci said.

Public Health says it's critical that those who test positive self-isolate right away. Also, those who've been within six feet for 15 minutes or more with someone who tested positive also needs to quarantine immediately.

Meanwhile, Santa Barbara County is also working to fill contact tracer positions.

"We shouldn't be here but we are so we are scrambling," said Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, Santa Barbara County Public Health Director.

They're currently redirecting Public Health staff to contact tracing teams as well as calling the state for help.

"In addition, we have reached out to our county departments who have sent us staff previously during the winter surge," Dr. Do-Reynoso explained.

"It's an opportunity to really be the boots on the ground and really help with responding to this disease," Pierucci added.

Once quarantine or isolation is complete, people can self-certify online to be released rather than calling the public health department.

Anyone can apply to be a paid contact tracer through San Luis Obispo County Human Resources.

There is extensive training online and in-person which lasts about three weeks.

Link to apply: Career Opportunities - COVID-19 Clerical Support