With thousands of new COVID-19 cases statewide, contact tracers are facing an uphill battle reaching out to those who might have been infected.
Lee Anne Bruce Boone, Chief of the Office of Accountability Services, said contact tracing is an important mitigation tool.
“It’s a huge part of making these numbers go down. We’re so fortunate to have the resources that we do,” Boone said.
Those resources have been strained lately, as the office experiences the surge they had long prepared for.
“We’ve really been gearing up for this for a long time in terms of staffing and getting our staff ready and training,” Boone said.
Even with a full staff and resources, Boone said the contacts are not always willing participants.
“People aren’t perhaps that interested or excited to hear from us and maybe they’re nervous or maybe they’re just not happy about needing to quarantine. So, that in particular can make contact tracing a little bit more difficult right now,” Boone said.
As case numbers go up, the Oklahoma State Department of Health is reevaluating how resources are used.
“We’re really trying to maybe eliminate steps. So, whereas before we might have done five phone calls to try to reach the same individual, we’re going to look at dropping that back to say three,” Boone said.
While contact tracers work to keep up, everyone can help by simply participating in questioning when called.
“You can help your neighbor. You can help your friend, by just answering that call and answering the question,” Boone said.
Contact tracing calls can be verified by calling 211.