Inside contact tracing


WARREN COUNTY (NEWS 10)–This weekend before heading out to a large gathering, you may want to think twice. Not only for the safety of you, your friends and family, but to help make the job of contact tracers a little easier. 

In many ways contact tracing is like detective work. In Warren County, there’s about 80 people working around the clock to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

“Contact tracing is essentially identifying the people that a COVID patient had contact with, and then figuring out whether they had contact with the patient in their contagious stage and then you kind of work your way back,” explained Don Lehman, a state certified contact tracer.

According to Lehman, the contagious stage is 48 hours from when a person starts showing symptoms. For Asymtomatic patients that test positive, the contact tracer goes back 48 hours from before they were given the test that resulted in the positive finding.

“If an individual who is symptomatic and hasn’t gotten tested, hasn’t been quarantined yet and they go to the store, we are not too concerned with that because most places require masks,” stated Meighan Maloney, who is a Disease Intervention Specialist.

Large parties where people aren’t social distancing and wearing masks is of the upmost concern for contact tracers.

While local areas saw a decrease in coronavirus cases in June, July has seen an increase in parts of the Capital Region.

Officials tell News 10 that parties and out of state travel is to blame. 

When it comes to contact tracing, not only will a tracer ask for the names of people you’ve been around, but will even use technology to their advantage. 

“Honestly restaurants and places like that, these days, most of these transactions, you have electronic records of so you can go back that way,” said Lehman.

He added that in some cases, contract tracers have even looked at security footage of public places.

Not only does contact tracing take time, but it can take an emotional toll on workers as well.

“There are times when we have to just talk them through it and be there to listen to them and listen to their concerns and just try to walk them through the steps,” said Maloney.

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