FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

Surge in cases changes the way contact tracing works in Wisconsin


Rising covid-19 case numbers are putting the pressure on local governments to do more contact tracing with the same amount of resources they had before the surge. 

Julia Saloman, a Public Health Supervisor and Contact Investigator for the Winnebago County Health Department said, “Here at the Winnebago County Health department we have a team of disease investigators who interview cases or people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and we also have a team of contact investigators who are those team members that interview people who have been exposed to somebody diagnosed with COVID-19” 

But due to the sheer volume of cases, the Winnebago county health department is overwhelmed with contact tracing and is only contacting known positive cases and not informing contacts of these cases. 

Saloman said, “We educate them on what to do for self-care and then we also educate them on actionable items, actionable things that they can do to help stop the spread.” 

Winnebago is one of multiple departments to have to start asking those that test positive to inform their own contacts of their diagnosis because the volume is overwhelming their department.

“When we have such a big surge it can be very limiting to a public health department to be able to do a thorough in-depth interview when we have hundreds of cases overnight,” said Saloman.

But she said over all, “contact tracing is a really good, you know, stopping, it limits the spread of infectious diseases in the community because then we can reach out to the contact and say the fact that you are not feeling any symptoms doesn’t mean you’re not spreading the virus, so we educate all contacts.”

Finally, she said, everyone has a role to play in stopping the spread of the disease by abiding by the “Three W’s” watch your distance, wear a mask and wash your hands. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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