Warren County is a smaller region in upstate New York, but Ginelle Jones, director of public health for the county, says they have had no problem in finding contact tracers.
“As people are seeing and hearing about this, they’re calling us and saying, ‘Can I be a tracer?’ ” Jones said. “I’m just excited people are willing to volunteer in the community for this to help the counties when we’re in a time of need.”
Jones says that 55 contact tracers were able to complete their certification in under 24 hours when asked, bringing the total number for the county to 68.
While each tracer is trained relatively the same, each county implements the program a little differently.
Right now, there is no statewide database for contact tracers to share information, but Jones says that so far, her county has not had a problem with sharing data with the surrounding regions.
“When we have a case in Warren County that has exposures in other counties, we have developed a communication system of faxing the contacts and the information on our case so that they know they need to put people in mandatory quarantine,” Jones explained. “Our counties work very well together.”
So how does it all work?
Well to become a contact tracer, one must complete the Johns Hopkins certification test, which takes around 4-6 hours. Then a tracer will track and locate anyone that has come in contact with a COVID-19-positive resident and require that they go into quarantine.
With the help of local law enforcement, they will check in twice a day to make sure this person is staying healthy and staying in quarantine.
Warren County so far has issued 339 mandatory quarantines and 92 precautionary quarantines.
“Nobody likes to be told you can’t leave your house,” explained Jones. “Our job as contact tracers in the Public Health Department is to make that as easy as possible and to provide the support they need.”
According to the governor’s metrics, regions must have 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents to stay open.