GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Fighting the coronavirus depends on two things, learning who has the disease and who could get it. And in this pandemic, it’s the job of contact tracers to find out who infected patients may have met.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, there are now over 900 positive cases of COVID-19 in Brown County. But according to Dr. Ashok Rai from Prevea Health, without the ongoing efforts of contact tracers that number could be higher.

“Given the sheer volume of people they’ve been handed and actively have been contact tracing, like I said, they really are the unsung heroes here in town now,” said Dr. Rai.

Contact tracing is a tool for public health agencies to gain control over a growing health crisis.
The job of contact tracers is to work with those who’ve tested positive and then determine who they’ve come in contact with.

“Where they work, who they’ve been in contact with, who lives in their household with them, where they have traveled, how may they have contracted this and who they may have spread it too,” Dr. Rai said.

Rai says with that information, these medical detectives track down those most at risk – passing on quarantine or testing instructions to hopefully stop the infection in its tracks.

“You’re looking to control something that you don’t have control of,” he said.

Governor Evers has announced 1,000 more contact tracers will be hired as the state ramps up testing to help reopen many services in Wisconsin. Dr. Rai says they are a critical component to live with Covid-19, which for now isn’t going away.

“Everytime we have a positive, the more contact tracing we can do and the more quarantining of small populations we can do, helps the rest of the population can get back to phasing into a new normal,” the doctor said.

Contact tracers in Brown County include retired nurses, doctors, as well as staff from the Department of Public Health, Brown County Health and the CDC.