Even as cases in Warren County are starting to trend downward, the Warren County Health Department remains aggressive in the fight against COVID-19.
The health department recently announced it is looking to hire nine new positions to aid in that fight – six contact tracers and three social support connectors as part of the state’s seven-month tracing program.
The positions are designed to help determine who has come in contact with people who have tested positive for the coronavirus – giving that person not only the chance to be tested themselves but to prevent further spread of the virus.
Gov. Andy Beshear stressed the importance of contact tracing on a Facebook video this week and how communication is key to limiting spread of the virus.
“No one wants to spread this virus to people we love, people we know or even people we don’t know,” Beshear said. “If we do, it is critical we do the right thing and make sure those people get the health care they need and know they should go in and get tested.”
Barren River District Health Department spokesman Ashli McCarty said contact tracing is key to getting everyone back to work and kickstarting the economy again.
“We reach out to individuals who have tested positive to assess their situation, provide them with resources and ask about any recent in-person contacts that could have been exposed from the disease,” McCarty said. “From there, we reach out to those contacts and instructions are provided about how to stop spreading the disease and what they can do to help with that as well.”
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, the Warren County Health Department and Barren River District Health Department have used contact tracing as part of their routine communicable disease investigation process.
Contact tracers reach out via phone to anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the Warren County area and will determine who these individuals have been in contact with and what businesses the individual may have gone to while they were infectious. The tracers then reach out to those individuals and continue down the trace until they reach the end – entering these names into a database as they go.
McCarty said it is a completely confidential process.
“We don’t give any information about what businesses are affected,” McCarty said. “We don’t name names in that way. We always have patient confidentiality at the forefront of the efforts. Whenever we call a contact we don’t tell them a person’s name who they may have been exposed by. We tell them, ‘You may have been exposed to the virus,’ and then we connect them to resources and provide them with instructions so that they can stop from spreading the virus any further.”
Social support connectors will only reach out to people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and offer them resources such as how to apply for unemployment or get groceries with zero contact.
“They help to connect contacts to resources that they need, especially for the international community,” McCarty said. “They might have a harder time so that is what these people are for, to help them get the resources they need to stay healthy.”
- Anyone interested in becoming a contact tracer or social support connector is asked to send their resume to email@example.com.