MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Wisconsin is working to expand its number of contact tracers as part of the previously-announced Badger Bounce Back Plan.
According to a Tuesday release from Governor Tony Evers, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has already trained 401 contact tracers over the last two months. Despite this, the program is scaling up to math Wisconsin’s increase in coronavirus testing.
“Our local health departments are already doing an excellent job with this work, and we want them to know we have their back,” said Gov. Evers. “As we increase testing to 85,000 a week, we’re expecting a big increase in the number of contact interviews per week, and we’re scaling up to meet that demand as well as deal with potential surges from local outbreaks.”
Contact tracers interview those who test positive for coronavirus to determine who they may have been in contact with recently. It’s done by contacting those who have tested positive, learning who they’ve had recent contact with, and then contacting those individuals to provide guidance on testing and isolation. Under the Badger Bounce Back plan, the goal is to interview positive cases within 24 hours of diagnosis, and contacts within another 24 hours.
Health officials say that staying home after testing positive or being exposed to the virus is critical in stopping the spread of the disease.
DHS says they received 1,000 applications just days after new contact tracing job openings were announced. Interviews for those positions will begin next week. DHS is coordinating the number of tracers with the number of projected tests and positive cases with the goal of having 1,000 statewide tracers. State officials are working to evaluate technology options to facilitate communication and case management, and increase the speed and efficiency with which individuals who may need to quarantine are identified and contacted.
“There is vital testing and contact tracing work being done right now in communities throughout Wisconsin, and we are proud to support these efforts,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “We also want to thank the people of Wisconsin for continuing to do their part to stay safer at home, and for answering this call by applying for contact tracing positions in record numbers.”
On Monday, state officials announced plans to increase Wisconsin’s testing capacity, which also includes testing every nursing home facility resident and employee.